Saudi Arabia is the one country on earth which prohibits women from driving cars or even bikes.
Friday, a month after the jailing of Manal Al-Sharif for driving her own car, Saudi women plan to hop into cars and drive en masse to protest the misogynistic edicts of the Sharia-enforcing government.
“We are incredibly excited about this new phase in Saudi women’s history,” said Saudi Women for Driving in a statement. “At the same time, we want to be clear so expectations are realistic: this is not going to be a large public protest. We see tomorrow as the opening day of a new era in which women, one by one, start exercising their right to drive all over the country.”
Saudi Women for Driving’s petition to request a statement of support from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, and the acquittal of Al-Sharif has garnered more thant 100,000 people in more than 150 countries.
The massive amount of support has not gone over well in Saudi Arabia, where the government now is reportedly cracking down on people who dare to sign the petition.
“The risk is high and women are scared,” the group said. “Some of us have been specifically named in Saudi media as ‘traitors,’ Saudi men have threatened to crack the windshield of any woman who tries driving tomorrow, and to beat up any Saudi woman who joined our Change.org campaigns. So this is not going to happen in one day, one week, or even one month. It’s just going to start tomorrow.”
This is not the first attempt at a demonstration of its kind, however past protests have been canceled.
Amnesty International called on the Saudi government to allow the protests to occur peacefully Thursday.
“Saudi Arabian authorities must not arrest licensed women drivers who choose to drive, and must grant them the same driving privileges as men,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“This is just one example of so many areas of life where women in Saudi Arabia have their human rights and their agency denied,” Luther added.