Saudi king overturns flogging of female driver


Princess Ameerah is a staunch advocate of women's rights

Princess Ameerah says court order of 10 lashes will not be carried out

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has overturned a court ruling sentencing a woman to ten lashes for breaking a ban on female drivers, the wife of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has said.

The pardon, which has not yet been confirmed by Saudi authorities, was revealed on Twitter by Princess Ameerah Al Taweel, an outspoken supporter of women’s rights in the kingdom.

“Thank God, the lashing of Shaima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King. I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am,” the princess wrote on her Twitter page on Wednesday.

“Yes, it is official, Prince Alwaleed just confirmed it to me,” she added two hours later.

A Saudi court on Tuesday sentenced Shaima Justaneyah to ten lashes for challenging the kingdom’s strict ban on women driving. The ruling is believed to be the first of its kind in the conservative Gulf state that has not involved a violation of Islamic law.

The sentence followed two days after King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections. He also promised to include them in the next all-appointed consultative Shura Council in 2013.

Saudi Arabia, holder of the world’s biggest oil reserves, has avoided the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked the Arab world this year.

In May, Saudi woman used the Facebook and Twitter social-networking websites to call for females with international driver’s licenses to use their cars June 17. They said their plan wasn’t a protest.

Manal Al Sharif was held for ten days and faced charges of “besmirching the kingdom’s reputation abroad and stirring up public opinion,” after she posted a YouTube video of herself driving. The video attracted more than 500,000 viewers before it was pulled from the website.

Princess Ameerah is a staunch advocate of overturning Saudi’s ban on female drivers. Speaking on the US Today Show in June she said allowing women to drive is one in a list of reforms that must be addressed in Saudi Arabia.

“We’re fighting for our rights and we are getting them. If we were not getting them, you would not see me talking to you now,” she said.

Asked if she wants to be the first woman to drive legally in the kingdom, Princess Ameerah said “Yes. [But] for me, I don’t care if I am the first or the 60th, as long as we drive. It’s a social need but looking at the other side, there are priorities for us women here in Saudi other than driving. We care about laws for women, women in the workforce – basic rights.”


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