Saudi women refuse to drop driving campaign (Reuters)
Women protesters in Saudi Arabia will go ahead with their "October 26" drive-in campaign, despite the threat of legal action from the authorities.
Top Saudi officials have warned women activists that any woman who gets behind the wheel will be punished.
Many activists have reportedly received telephone calls from the interior ministry over the planned protest.
One activist, Najla al-Hariri, urged women to cancel their protest, according to AFP. "Out of caution and respect for the interior ministry's warnings ... we are asking women not to drive tomorrow and to change the initiative from an October 26 campaign to an open driving campaign."
But Saudi women's rights activists have urged women with international driving licences to join the protests.
Top Muslim clerics and authorities have openly warned against any such defiance. Saudi officials have also pledged to crack down on anyone who attempts to "disturb public peace" in the name of drive-in protests.
"It is known that women in Saudi are banned from driving and laws will be applied against violators and those who demonstrate in support," said interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al- Turki.
Supporters who championed the lifting of the driving ban online are also set to face punishment for violating "the anti-cyber crimes law".
Not so ironically, similar views were echoed by Saudi taxi firms who say they will lose at least 60% of revenue if women start driving in the conservative kingdom.
"It is well known that many more women than men use our taxis. We depend on the revenue from women customers. Many taxi firms will close down if women are allowed to drive their own cars," a taxi driver in Saudi Arabia named Ali Sayed told the Arab News.
The campaign website - http://www.oct26driving.com - was also hacked on the eve of the protest day with a message reading "Drop the leadership of Saudi women".
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