Clinton Backs Saudi Women’s Right to Drive

Posted June 21st, 2011 at 12:35 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has thrown her support behind women in Saudi Arabia who are protesting the kingdom's ban on female drivers.

In Washington Tuesday, Clinton said the women are “brave” and that their goal is “right.” She stressed that the movement was born from local women seeking equal rights within Saudi Arabia and is not a push from outside forces.

Some women in Saudi Arabia drove cars last Friday in a defiant response to the kingdom's traditional ban on women behind the wheel. Many Saudi women had pledged on social media Internet sites to take part in the protest.

Because demonstrations are banned in Saudi Arabia, women with drivers' licenses obtained in other countries were encouraged to make individual protests.

There is no written rule in Saudi Arabia barring women from driving, only fatwas, or religious edicts, stemming from a strict tradition of Islam called Wahhabism.

Clerics enforcing it claim that if women could legally drive, they would be free to leave home alone and then could interact with male strangers. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers or rely on male relatives to drive.