Two Saudi women, who have been detained for nearly a month after defying a ban on female drivers, were referred on Thursday to a court established to try terrorism cases, according to the BBC.
Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Amoudi, 33, were both arrested December 1 after not only ignoring the restriction on women driving, but also publishing photos of them behind the wheel on social media, alongside their opinions of the ban and democracy in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Hathloul was stopped by border guards when she attempted to cross the border on November 30 with a United Arab Emirates driver's license in an act of defiance. Al-Amoudi, a UAE-based Saudi journalist, was stopped when she went to deliver food and a blanket to al-Hathloul at the border.
The specific charges against the two are unknown, according to the Associated Press, but the case has been referred to the Specialized Criminal Court—a court that was established in 2008 to try terrorism cases, but has also tried and sentenced human rights workers, dissidents and activists who have been critical of the government.
In 2012, after a spate of activist arrests, Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, pointed out the political nature of the court. "Trying Saudi political activists as terrorists merely because they question abuses of government power demonstrates the lengths the Saudi government will go to suppress dissent," said Wilcke. "The trial of peaceful reformers in a terrorism court underlines the political nature of this court."