Driving Miss Saudi

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Hackers defaced their Web site. Delegations of clerics appealed to the king to block their movement. And men claiming to be security agents called their cellphones to leave a clear message:

O, women of the kingdom, do not get behind the wheel!

But they did anyway. On Saturday, a few dozen women insisted on violating one of the most stubborn social codes in staunchly conservative Saudi society, getting into their cars and driving, activists said. Many posted videos of themselves doing so to spread the word.

“We are looking for a normal way of life,” Madiha al-Ajroush, 60, a psychologist, said in an interview in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, “for me to get into my car and do something as small as get myself a cappuccino or something as grand as taking my child to the emergency room.”

The public call for women nationwide to drive on Saturday was the latest push in a decades-old effort by a small group of activists to exercise what they see as a fundamental human right. Saudi Arabia, a hereditary monarchy, is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.

via A Mostly Quiet Effort to Put Saudi Women in Driver’s Seats

The women and their supports insist on this not becoming a noisy and aggressive revolution against the male domination of the culture.

The whole effort raises an interesting question about the nature of the dialogue between men who support tradition and those who now support tradition disruptive gender equality.