Saudi woman defies driving ban

Najla al-Hariri said she drove non-stop for four days in streets of Jeddah.

Updated: May 15, 2011, 23:04 PM IST

Jeddah: A Saudi mother said Sunday she
defied a ban on women drivers in the ultra-conservative
kingdom by getting behind the wheel for four days without
being stopped.

Najla al-Hariri, a housewife in her mid-30s, said she
drove non-stop for four days in the streets of the Red Sea
city of Jeddah "to defend her belief that Saudi women should
be allowed to drive."

"I don`t fear being arrested because I am setting an
example that my daughter and her friends are proud of," Hariri said, adding she was offering driving lessons for women.

Hariri said she was an experienced motorist as she had
driven for five years in Egypt and another five years in
Lebanon, while she could not drive in her own country.

In addition to being banned from driving, Saudi women
cannot travel without authorisation from their male guardians,
and are also not allowed to vote in the municipal elections,
the only public polls in the absolute monarchy.

When in public, they are obliged to cover from head to

Hariri ridiculed the social belief that Saudi women
are treated "like queens" as they are driven around by their
male relatives or drivers, saying "this is a big lie."

"We are always under their mercy to give us a lift,"
she said.
Meanwhile, a group of Saudi women have launched a
Internet-based campaign calling for a nationwide protest drive
on June 17 in a bid to get rid of the ban once and for all.