10/24/2013, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi Qur'anic scholars and imams oppose a woman's right to drive

Some Muslim leaders are horrified by the prospect that on 26 October a group of women might break the law by driving a car. Yet, nowhere in the Qur'an does it say that women cannot drive. Under the existing law, women who break the rule could get ten lashes. For some Qur'anic scholars, women drivers are at risk of bearing children with physical problems.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 150 Muslim leaders, including imams and Qur'anic scholars, protested yesterday in front of the royal palace in order to stop a campaign by Saudi women for the right to drive a car.

Although neither Islamic law nor Saudi's traffic laws explicitly ban women from driving, Saudi authorities still do not issue driver's licenses to women.

Since the right-to-drive campaign was launched last month, Saudi women have been uploading videos and sharing pictures online of themselves driving. On 26 October, many of them plan to invade Saudi roads. So far, 16,000 signatures have been collected.

In Saudi Arabia, women cannot leave home or go abroad on their own. To do so, they need the husband's permission and a family escort.

Granting women the right to drive is seen as a defeat for men that could lead to society's "moral decay". For this reason, if a woman is caught driving, she can be sentenced to ten lashes.

For some time, King Abdullah has been trying to nudge Saudi society towards greater liberalisation, but he has come up against conservative opposition.

For some of Muslim experts in fact, women drivers could harm their ovaries and give birth to children with physical problems.

According to some imams and Qur'anic scholars, the pro-women this campaign is funded by the United States.

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