Saudi women persecuted for driving cars

This 13 March 2019 video says about itself:

πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¦ Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to stand trial

Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul is set to face trial in Riyadh on Wednesday. She has been in detention for almost a year without charge. Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall reports.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

They fought for the right to drive, but now Saudi women are on trial

Ten Saudi women who fought for the right to drive and the abolition of male custody are in court. They are accused of undermining the Saudi kingdom.

Among the women are prominent bloggers and scientists. The indictment was formulated two weeks ago, at the first session that attracted a lot of international media attention. Today women may tell their side of the story for the first time.

Sisters in Belgium

One of the women became the face of the activists. The 29-year-old Loujain al-Hathloul became known by sitting behind a car wheel in 2013 with her father. Later she also took other actions. Her two sisters live in Brussels.

One of them, Lina, tells the NOS that the family is very concerned. “One of the charges against Loujain is that she had contact with human rights organizations, diplomats of Western allies of Saudi Arabia and foreign journalists. And that she fought for women’s rights. In principle, that is not prohibited by law”, says Lina. “But they can formulate it in a way that it falls under something that is forbidden.”

The family has been living in a nightmare for a year. “From May to August, the women were locked up in a hotel. None of us were allowed to speak to Loujain, but when my parents first saw her in September, they were shocked. She had red marks on her face and she was tortured. Eg, cold wind was blown into her room.”

Death threats

An action group of British lawyers and MPs confirms these stories and also talks about death threats, sleep deprivation and sexual harassment. The Saudi government contradicts these allegations.

Since September al-Hathloul can receive her parents once a month and call once a week. Her sister emphasizes how important it is for her parents to do that. “A lot of women think just like Loujain, but they are not supported by their familis. Loujain was supported and is still supported by my parents.”

Lina also talked to her sister over the phone. Those were emotional conversations, but since the trial started, her sister is no longer allowed to call family abroad.

Closed doors

So Lina, her other sister and their brother who lives in Canada, try to get as much attention as possible for the case. “We are not from a powerful family, we are an ordinary Saudi family. No one expected this.”

The Saudi crown prince has been carrying out a number of apparently progressive reforms for the past two years, such as the abolition of the driving ban for women, which Al-Hathloul fought for. Lina: “We really don’t understand it.” …

What Loujain will say exactly later, Lina does not know, because the case takes place behind closed doors. She does have good hope for her sister. “In the end, I also think the majority of Saudis are behind her, but they can’t say it freely.”

3 thoughts on “Saudi women persecuted for driving cars

  1. Pingback: Tortured Saudi feminist’s sister speaks | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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