Saudi Arabia: Saudi scholars back women drivers
The two scholars are Abdel-Mohsin al-Obaikan - one of Saudi Arabia's senior religious figures - and another well-known cleric, Mohsin Awaji.
Both say that, in principle, Islamic law does not prevent women driving.
Everything depends, they say, on the context. There are road safety issues. Steps need to be taken to prevent harassment of women drivers.
And - the great fear of religious conservatives - having women at the wheel must not lead to mingling of the sexes.
Arab News - the newspaper that has publicised the views of the two scholars - follows up the story with an opinion poll. This too suggests Saudi men and women see the issue in a practical light - the clear implication being that, if women are to drive, the government should do more to prepare the ground.
Conservatives continue to resist change and dispute the notion that public opinion is against them. For the moment, the signs are that the authorities are content to watch the debate unfold - without taking sides.
By: Roger Hardy
21 February 2008
Saudi Arabia: Saudi women make video protest
12/03/2008: Saudi women's rights activists have posted on the web a video of a woman at the wheel of her car, in protest at the ban on female drivers in the kingdom. (BBC News)
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