Women in Saudi Arabia stand up to authorities by breaking driving ban

BY Mori Rothman  October 26, 2013 at 4:30 PM EDT

Women in Saudi Arabia took to the streets today in an act of defiance against the country’s ban on driving.

The ban on driving stems from conservative religious customs and isn’t actually written in law — but that hasn’t stopped police from arresting women who get behind the wheel. Despite public warnings from the Interior Ministry and conservative religious leaders, many women posted videos of themselves driving in different parts of Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Hasa. The authenticity of these videos could not be independently verified by PBS NewsHour.

Saudi support site

Activists have been urging Saudi women to film themselves while driving on Oct. 26 and post it online as part of a web-based campaign that collected more than 16,000 signatures on a petition before the site was hacked.

Dr. Madeha Al-Ajroush, who spoke to the NewsHour earlier this afternoon via Skype, said that she went driving in Riyadh and noticed several cars closely following her.

She said that although some women reported receiving calls telling them not to drive, many women drove anyway — and vowed to continue to drive until the rule is changed.