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Invoking Rosa Parks, Dozens Of Saudi Women Openly Defy Ban On Driving

By Judd Legum

"Invoking Rosa Parks, Dozens Of Saudi Women Openly Defy Ban On Driving"

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Brushing off threats from the government, more than 60 Saudi women got behind the wheel on Saturday in a bold protest of the nation’s de facto ban on women driving.

Sara Hussein, a Saudi woman involved in the effort, drew parallels to the U.S. civil rights movement: “Think back in history — Rosa Parks was the only person who sat down on the bus, wasn’t she? And then it started to happen gradually. It does have to start with the few brave people who are willing to risk whatever there is to risk.”

Many women documented the act of civil disobedience on social media, even posting videos to YouTube. The most popular video, which has already been viewed nearly 100,000 times, was posted by May al-Sawyan, a 32-year-old economics researcher. She drove to the grocery store:

Many other videos are posted to the movement’s YouTube channel, October 26 Driving.

On Friday, the Interior Ministry threatened to punish anyone involved in the protest. So far, however, there are no reports of arrests or tickets issued.

Last month, a prominent Saudi cleric claimed that driving would damage women’s ovaries and cause birth defects.

Saudi Arabia does not formally prohibit women from driving, but effectively bans them from doing so by refusing to issue licenses to women.

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