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Saudi women begin to challenge driving ban

June 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Saudi women took the wheel in an act of defiance.

About 40 women drove vehicles Friday to protest an age-old law forbidding them the right to drive. Momentum has been building since a woman driver last month was arrested and detained for more than a week.

"We want women from today to begin exercising their rights," said Wajeha al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women's rights activist who posted Internet clips of herself driving in 2008. "Today on the roads is just the opening in a long campaign. We will not go back."

Activists have not appealed for mass protests in any specific sites in Saudi Arabia, but are urging Saudi women to begin a growing mutiny against the male-only driving rules supported by clerics backing austere interpretations of Islam and enforced by powerful morality squads.

No arrests were made Friday, but one woman got a ticket for driving without a license. Many women say they now have their husbands' support.

The Associated Press contributed to this story