Saudi Women Ramp Up Protests, Defying Driving Ban

Is the next frontier in the so-called Arab Spring Saudi Arabia's women?

That's the question right now as women's rights activists are calling for mass protests and a "mutiny" against rules that allow only men to drive cars. Today, June 17th, is the culmination of months of activism. 

Al Jazeera reports:

"We want women from today to begin exercising their rights,'' Wajeha al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women's rights activist, said.

She has posted internet clips of herself driving in 2008.

"Today on the roads is just the opening in a long campaign," she said. "We will not go back.''

Saudi Arabia, of course, is a longtime U.S. ally despite its horrible record on women's rights. And these protesters haven't forgotten that fact--this week in Washington, a group of women drove around the Saudi embassy to protest as well. 

Like many of the uprisings of the past few years, this one extends to the Internet. There's a Facebookpage, and women have been posting video of themselves driving on YouTube. The Guardian has included reports in its Middle East liveblog, and you can watch live tweets from the protesters at hashtag #women2drive. 

AlterNet / By Sarah Jaffe

Posted at June 17, 2011, 3:36am