RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi activists said more than 60 women claimed to have answered their call on Saturday to get behind the wheel in a rare show of defiance against a ban on female driving in the ultraconservative kingdom.
Saudi professor and campaigner Aziza Youssef said the group has received 13 videos and another 50 phone messages from women showing or claiming they had driven. She said they have no way to verify the messages.
If the numbers are accurate, this year's campaign is the most successful effort yet by Saudi women demanding the right to drive. Youssef said they have not received any reports of arrests or women being ticketed by police.
A security official said that authorities did not arrest or fine any female drivers on Saturday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
However, there have been a few roadblocks along the way.
Youssef said she and four other prominent women activists received phone calls this week from a top official with close links to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, warning them not to drive on Saturday, the day the campaign set for women's driving.
View gallery."In this image made from video provided by theOct26thDriving …
In this image made from video provided by theOct26thDriving campaign, which has been authenticated b …
She also said that "two suspicious cars" have been following her everywhere all day. "I don't know from which party they are from. They are not in a government car," she said.
Though no specific Saudi law bans women from driving, women are not issued licenses. They mostly rely on drivers or male relatives to move around.
Powerful clerics who hold far-reaching influence over the monarchy enforce the driving ban, warning that breaking it will spread "licentiousness." A prominent cleric caused a stir when he said last month that medical studies show that driving a car harms a woman's ovaries.
American ladies, remember this the next time you want to argue for something else that's far less severe. We actually live in a great country. I wonder what type of bogus study said you can't drive without your ovaries being hurt? In any case, I do hope that these women make it through safely with no arrests or violations.