If women don’t take action, the authorities will not lift the ban. It is up to women to decide.
Alsharif’s fellow organizers, who cited the one year anniversary of the first protests last June, made an appeal to Saudi King Abdullah to support them and not enforce penalties for defying the ban. The activists wrote to the king:
In our campaign we do not seek to disturb the authorities or violate rules and regulations … All we want is for the women who need to go about their daily business and do not have a man to help her to be able to help herself.
The women’s aims faced religious opposition in the deeply conservative and repressive Saudi culture. (The kingdom won’t send women athletes to the Olympics.) A group of religious scholars who advise the government wrote last year in a report that if women are allowed to drive, there will be “no more virgins” left in Saudi Arabia.
The campaign, though, has found supporters in the U.S. Last summer, a group of Senators wrote the king asking him to lift the ban. And, after a campaign waged by the women activists and diplomatic evasion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the “brave” protesters, said they were right, and offered her support.