Last year September, Saudi Arabia made it known that it would lift the ban on women for driving, activists admired a step toward the equality of women in a country that is known for its patriarchal and restrictive laws. Some week ago, the opening driver’s licenses were supplied to ten of Saudi women, though initially they won’t be able to drive formally until the lift was effected on the 24th of June.
But in some month past, seventeen of the activists on women’s rights, many of whom crusaded for their right to drive in the country, were arrested by some of the Saudi securities. The abolition, outlined by a lot of the human rights groups, comes just weeks before the ban was set to be lifted. Eight of the women activists have been set free reported by some Government officials. Among those that arrested are Eman al-Nafjan, an activist and a blogger; Aisha al-Manea, is a veteran driving activist also an activist with a large social media presence; and Loujain al-Hathloul; the three women were all public leaders in the crusade to end the ban on driving. Four of the activists have announces been set free, following what Reuters said.
“What the authorities of Saudi Arabia are trying to do is to make it known that first, any reform that must take place must be only due to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” says a women’s rights researcher on the North Africa and Middle East for Human Rights Watch, Rothna Begum. “They are trying to review the history of the actual activism that took place by the activist of women’s rights. “
The harsh actions by the government’s made another perspective on the crown prince (commonly known as MBS), welcomed by many in the global community as a young reformer last year when he announced the lift on the driving ban. But begun warns that this specific crackdown is an indication of more to come from the MBS, who, she announced, “knows that all of the credit for these reforms can be gotten by him” while wanting a dictatorial agenda domestically.
The Saudi assistant interior minister said “Saudi Arabia Women will officially be authorized to drive for the ever first time the 24th of June, with all the development for the historic occasion in place”.
This action will affect all the women whose nationalities is Saudi Arabia, and will also permit them to work in jobs related to driving.
"Women must be treated with appreciation, respect, trust and prevent any bad that may happen from people towards those that will drive their vehicle on the 10th of the next month," said the General Saeed bin Abdullah Al Qahtani which is the assistant interior minister, referring to the 10th day of Shawwal in the calendar of Islam. The proclamation dispels some news that the authorities of Saudi were reconsidering to retract the move.
Last week, Saudi Arabia released a veteran women's rights activist Aisha Al Manea following her arrest earlier this month.
A source of security at the Security Presidency of Saudi State said that they had "observed an arranged movement of a group of people who had dared to violate the religious and national pillars of the country by making suspected contacts in support of some of the activities of unknown circles," according to the official agency of Saudi news. Seven people were reported and arrested just some weeks before the women driving ban ended in the Kingdom of Gulf.
Details were not offered why the activists were arrested in Saudi. But Ms Al Manea made the announcement for the women right to drive before the royal family concluded to lift the ban in the month of September last year (2017).
The resolution to allow 16 million of the Saudi's women to drive comes as part of the chain of dramatic changes executed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 32-year-old prince has pushed a reformist agenda in the kingdom since he accepted the role of the heir apparently in 2017. The modernization efforts of Prince Mohammed’s have been addressed as a new age for Saudi Arabia both at abroad and home. He appalled the region with an anti-corruption purge in 2017, when multi-billionaires and the members of the Kingdom’s royal family were seized at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.
Allowing the women to drive in Saudi Arabia comes as part of a bigger plan to assemble the kingdom of the female population. In the past, reforms have been hard to execute in the kingdom due to the religious conservatives of the country. However they have been marginalized by the Prince Mohammed’s modernization efforts.
Their reduced influence was on display when the country opened its first cinema earlier this year, despite opposition by many conservative clerics. Also most of the women’s universities have started offering driving lessons to the women since the year’s beginning.
Picture: Easy Young Lady!
In addition, five driving schools that are meant for women have been also established, according to the country's General Department of Traffic. Women in the kingdom will be permitted to work in other traffic security-related places and as drivers.
Saudi Vision 2030, the continuous economic plan widely considered as the brainchild of the Crown Prince, highlights mobilization of women as one of its core key pillars.
"Women driving is not only about driving a car; it also enhances self-confidence, decision-making skills and strength of character" she said in a statement provided by the government. A risk analyst, Rema Jawdat also said in a statement, "Driving, to me, denotes having an option; the option of moving independently, now that we have the option and that's important."
But, some users of Twitter are skeptical about the news.
"Let us not be lost in celebration and pretend that Saudi Arabia has been fundamentally "changed”, “said a person. "It is still in oppressive dictatorship. This whole thing is just for a bigger plan or propaganda."