Riyadh: Police in Saudi Arabia have arrested five women for breaking a ban on female drivers in the conservative kingdom, one of the women says.
The women were arrested north of Riyadh in Hettein district, she said by telephone, saying that they were "training for driving" in three cars at an empty plot when two police officers arrived and detained them.
The women, who are aged between 20 and 30, were taken to a police station in Sahafa street, and their male guardians were called in, said one woman, who used a mobile phone which they were allowed to keep.
"We did not break the law. We were not driving on the road," she said.
The arrests come a week before a protest by Saudi women who are planning to take the wheel in protest against the ban which is unique to the kingdom that applies a strict version of Sunni Islam.
The organisers of the June 17 demonstration emphasise that no law in Saudi Arabia forbids women from driving and that the ban is based on a fatwa, or religious edict, issued in the kingdom.
A Saudi woman was arrested last month after being caught driving in Eastern Province, triggering a national campaign urging King Abdullah to release her and lift the ban on women driving.
In addition to the driving ban, women are not allowed to travel without an authorisation from a male guardian.
In public, they are forced to cover from head to toe.