Saudi Pro-Women Driving Activist Arrested

Loujain Al-Hathloul
Loujain Al-Hathloul

Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was picked up by authorities at the country’s airport in Damman, Amnesty International reported.

Although no reason was given for her detention, Al-Hathloul is known for her outspoken criticism of the kingdom’s draconian laws governing women. In 2014, she was arrested for driving into the kingdom from the neighboring United Arab Emirates, defying the country’s ban on women driving.

At that time, she was held for more than two months, with campaigners for her release said her detention focused more on Al-Hathloul’s use of social media than on driving.

“It appears she is being targeted once again because of her peaceful work as a human rights defender speaking out for women’s rights, which are consistently trammeled in the kingdom,” said Amnesty’s Samah Hadid.

Unlike many activists in the kingdom, Al-Hathloul tweets under her own name. Her Twitter account has 284,000 followers.

In November 2015, Al-Hathloul tried to run for public office in the first election in which women were allowed to register as candidates. Even though she registered, her name did not appear on the ballot. The same happened to fellow pro-driving activist Tamadour al-Yami.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. In addition, every woman must have a male guardian – her father, husband or even a minor son – from whom she must receive final approval for almost all of her life decisions, from school to employment, travel and even visiting a doctor.

MS
Meira Svirsky
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org