Saudi women's drive for freedom fueled by social media

Sumeyye H.'s twitpic as a reaction to Saudi women driving
Twitpic
Supporting Saudi women driving
Sumeyye H.'s twitpic in support of Saudi women driving
Twitpic

(CBS) - Saudi women are getting behind the wheel today to defy the driving ban that has kept them from running their own errands and having the same rights as their male counterparts.

It has been one month since Manal al-Sherif, a key figure in the cause, was arrested after she posted a YouTube video of herself driving around the city of Khobar. She went to jail but was released nine days later after pledging she'd never drive or take part in the Women2Drive campaign.

That doesn't stop the initiative. In fact, online support for the cause has been growing in the form of Facebook groups, trending topics on Twitter, even online petitions for change.

Today, activists are "urging Saudi women to begin a growing mutiny against the male-only driving rules supported by clerics backing austere interpretations of Islam and enforced by powerful morality squads," Associate Press reports.

"[This] is the largest en masse action since November 1990 when a group of 47 Saudi women were arrested and severely punished for demonstrating in cars," reports The Telegraph.

Saudi women and their loved ones are tweeting about their accomplishments every step of the way...

"We've just returned from the supermarket. My wife decided to start the day by driving to the store and back," columnist and human rights activist Tawfiq Alsaif tweeted.

"My wife, Maha & I have just come from a 45-minute drive, she was the driver though Riyadh streets. #saudi #women2drive," tweeted Mohammad Al-Qahtani, co-founder and president of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.

"Thank you I'm not a hero I am just normal woman Want to live freely Thanks again for support to me #Women2Drive #SaudiWomenRevolution," tweeted @Noarh3.

Supporters tweet back...

"We are in solidarity with #Women2Drive, #SaudiWomen as they peacefully defy violations of their rights today!" Amnesty International tweeted.

"The courage shown by these Saudi women is remarkable. Very exciting to watch. #women2drive," tweeted Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center & Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Sumeyye H. of Istanbul shared a powerful twitpic. In it, she holds up a sign that says, "Allah did not say we can't drive!! We are in solidarity with you, best wishes from Turkey!!"

Keep going, ladies! You are an inspiration to all of us!

  • Ysolt Usigan

    Ysolt Usigan is the editor of lifestyle and technology for women at CBSNews.com