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Jun 1, 2005 11:50 pm

Will the Saudi women follow their Kuwaiti sisters

11:13am (UK)
Allowing Saudi Women to Drive Is 'Meaningless Argument'


All the talk about allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean it will become a public issue up for discussion, said Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef.

In comments to the official Saudi Press Agency published yesterday, Nayef said the recent debate was “meaningless” and would not make it something the Shura Council, Saudi Arabia’s appointed advisory parliament, would debate.

“I think it is a meaningless argument, this is a social affairs issue to be settled by society,” Nayef said.

“Keeping on discussing it won’t turn it into a case (for the Council to debate).”

Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia and have very few rights at all. As part of a recent campaign of limited reform, the authorities have taken steps towards giving women more rights and jobs, but they were barred from running or voting in this year’s landmark municipal elections.

Mohammad al-Zulfa, a member of the appointed Shura Council, has asked the presidency of the council to allow its members to discuss conducting a study to look into the feasibility of women driving. Al-Zulfa has not yet received a response to his request.

Al-Zulfa’s proposal has sparked a debate in the Saudi media, with some supporting his idea and others rejecting it.

Without written permission from a male guardian, women cannot travel, get an education or work. With or without written permission they cannot drive in the kingdom, mix with men in public, or leave home without covering themselves from head to toe.

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