Saudi women push for right to drive

June 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 30 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabian women drove cars to mark the one-year anniversary of a campaign to end the ban on women getting behind the wheel, officials said.

"What's happening today is not a protest," said Aziza al-Yousef, who took a 15-minute drive Friday. "We want to remember the day and the issue."

Earlier this week, members of the women's group demanding the right to drive called off a protest scheduled for Friday, saying they didn't believe Saudi Arabia was ready for a protest, Bikyamasr.com reported.

The women also sent King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz a petition urging him to lift the ban on women driving.

"Our initiative is not aimed at violating laws," said a letter to the king from Manal al-Sharif and Najla Hariri, 45. The petition asks for "the possibility for women to get a driving license in nearby countries and allowing them to start driving."

On June 17, 2011, about 100 women participated in a demonstration for their right to drive, and many were arrested.

"If women don't take action, the authorities will not lift the ban. It is up to women to decide," al-Sharif said.

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