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'The rain begins with a single drop': Saudi activists celebrate driving victory Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

'The rain begins with a single drop': Saudi activists celebrate driving victory

Activist Manal al-Sharif was detained in 2011 for driving in Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 September, 2017

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The Saudi women who jeopardised their freedom and safety in campaigning for the right to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom have reacted to the news the ban has been lifted.
"The rain begins with a single drop."

That was the statement on Tuesday night from Manal al-Sharif, a leading Saudi activist who was arrested and threatened as she campaigned to get women behind the wheel. 

The first attempt to break the ban took place in 1990, when 47 women in Riyadh drove their cars in protest. They were imprisoned for one day, had their passports confiscated, and some of them lost their jobs as a result of their activism.

But it wasn't until 2011 when the campaign gained momentum online and international attention.


Writing on her website today on behalf of the #Women2Drive campaign, Sharif said: "Everything changed on June 17, 2011, when we started #Women2Drive movement.

"I was sent to jail for posting a video of me driving as part of the campaign, but nonetheless, dozens of brave women dared to drive on June 17th, 2011. The struggle never stopped but continued with more campaigns throughout the years."

Two years later, Saudi blogger Eman Alnafjan along with Loujain Al-Hathloul attempted to cross Saudi borders coming from the UAE.

She was later joined by the Saudi journalist Maysa Al-Amoudi, both were arrested and sent to jail for 72 days. 

Reacting to news the ban had been lifted, Hathloul tweeted simply: "Thank God."


"It's just the start to end long-standing unjust laws have always considered Saudi women minors who are not trusted to drive their own destiny."

"Women campaigning to end this ban have lost their freedom, their jobs, jeopardised their safety and had their cars confiscated and held," Sharif wrote.

"They have been harassed, jailed and their families have been targeted.

"They have been called every degrading name and viciously attacked. They have lost their lives as they have known it for daring to drive on the streets of Saudi Arabia."

"It's just the start to end long-standing unjust laws have always considered Saudi women minors who are not trusted to drive their own destiny."


Social media was also full of praise for the activists' brave protests.




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