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Saudi Arabia refers women drivers to terrorism court

A Saudi court in the Eastern Province city of Al-Ahsa has referred two female activists to a special court established to try terrorism cases, apparently for attempting to defy the Kingdom’s ban on women drivers. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which does not allow women to drive.

According to local activists, who preferred not to be named, Lojain Hathloul, 25, was imprisoned on 1 December while trying to enter Saudi territory across the border with the United Arab Emirates; she was driving her own car. The Saudi authorities then arrested journalist Maysa Amoudi, 33, after she travelled to the border to support Hathloul.

Although they were unable to obtain the full details of the charges that the women face, the local supporters said that the investigators are focusing on their activism on social networking sites rather than the fact that they tried to defy the driving ban. Hathloul’s lawyer intends to appeal against the court’s decision, it is claimed.

Reporters without Borders listed Saudi Arabia earlier this year among the 19 countries where government agencies are considered enemies of the Internet because of their censorship. Dozens of Saudi women started a campaign in October to break the kingdom’s ban on women drivers, using social networking sites.

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