Saudi Women's Right to Drive Debate Gets Ugly

A Facebook page calls for beating any Saudi women spotted behind the wheel

This article is from the archive of our partner .

On Monday, we noted how Manal al-Sharif's campaign to end Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving had played out largely online, with Sharif posting a YouTube video of her behind a wheel and joining a group, Women2Drive, which has harnessed Facebook and Twitter to organize a nationwide protest in June. Today we're learning that the backlash against the movement is taking place online as well.

AFP is reporting that a Facebook page has sprouted up calling for men to beat any Saudi women who drive their cars in June with an iqal, the cord men use to keep their headdress in place. The page has over 6,500 "likes" at the moment and some commenters are suggesting handing out boxes of iqals to young people and encouraging them to whip any women who protest the driving ban. Numerous Twitter and Facebook pages have also been created in recent days in support of Sharif and her cause.

Emirates 24/7, meanwhile, notes that several Saudi men have posted videos on YouTube mocking Sharif, who was arrested over the weekend. In the video below, one man imitates Sharif's dress and pronouncements:

As for Sharif herself, the activist's laywer is denying a report in a Saudi paper on Tuesday that Sharif burst into tears in prison and pointed fingers at other women who incited her to upload her YouTube video. The lawyer quoted Sharif as saying she would "not break down as long as King Abdullah is there."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.