Saudi King “Cancels” Flogging of Female Driver

Sep 29, 2011 12:52pm

A Saudi woman sentenced to receive 10 lashes for driving in the Kingdom has reportedly been granted a reprieve by King Abdullah.

“Thank God, the lashing of Shaima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King,” tweeted Princess Ameerah Al Taweel, wife of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is the king’s nephew and the richest man in the Arab world. “I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am.”

A government official confirmed the news to The Associated Press.

Women are not allowed to drive in the ultra-conservative Muslim Saudi Arabia, and on Tuesday Shaima Jastaina, who is in her 30s, was found guilty.

The sentence received worldwide condemnation, especially because it came on the heels of a historic reform just two days earlier when King Abdullah announced women would be given the right to vote and run in municipal elections. He also said women would be named to the Shura Council, which serves as an advisory board.

“[Prince] Alwaleed and I spoke with Shaima, she was happy and she said: “the King’s orders washed the fears I lived with after this unjust sentence,”" Princess Ameerah later wrote on Twitter.

For his part, the multi-billionaire Prince Alwaleed called the sentence a “barbaric and inhuman decision.”

“It’s clear some backward-thinking elements in the Saudi society want to harm the King’s name,” he told Forbes magazine.

The official Saudi Press Agency has yet to release a statement.

Saudi Arabia has a male guardianship policy that often requires women to get a man’s permission to work, travel and study, among other activities.

A campaign called “Women2Drive” was started in early summer, demanding the rights of women to drive. In June, groups of women got into their cars to drive around in protest.

“What kind of rule is this,” a woman named Maha Qahtani told ABC News at the time. “Why no for us and yes for men? It’s my right. It’s my right and I have to have it.”

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