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Saudi Woman Manal Al-Sherif Free After Pledge Not to Encourage Driving

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by copythat

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In The News

For the women of Saudi Arabai brave enough to encourage each other in speaking out against the "religious" ban that prohibits the female gender from driving, those efforts have been stifled as Manal Al-Sharif is freed -- but pledges to let go of efforts to encourage women in Saudia Arabia to drive. While there is no official law against women driving in Saudi Arabia, religious police enforce prohibition of female drivers.

The Saudi woman originally used a facebook page, to urge women in the country to stand up to the unofficial driving ban -- an event slated for June 17. Over 11,000 women joined the Facebook group in efforts to break the bindings imposed by Saudi culture.

She has been arrested twice by the Saudi government, after being seen driving in a hat and scarf in Khobar: A Saudi newspaper published video of the woman driving her car in Khobar while dressed in black glasses and a black scarf. “Manal drove her car through Khobar streets in defiance of the kingdom’s social traditions which prevent women from driving,” according to Saudi Arabia media.

After Al-Sherif's call for action to women, a group of approximately 1400 Saudi men used facebook in return -- in a call for violence against women drivers who are physically caught driving a car in Saudi Arabia. Called "The Iqal Campaign: June 17 for preventing women from driving." The call for violence against Saudi women received more than 6,000 "Likes" on the Facebook website -- the online page published in the Arabic language and not viewable to United States viewers. Iqal translates to the cord of the traditional head-covering used by men in the Gulf region and the suggestion is that any woman who drives a car be whipped with the cord.

Supporters of the "The Iqal Campaign" on Facebook threaten that ”attention is to prevent women from driving with all our strength…….the Iqal will be waiting for any woman or man supporting the campaign for women to drive cars.”

9 days ago Manal Al-Sherif was arrested and detained, and subsequently held by the Saudi government. The Saudi Arabian government is known to detain citizens up to two days during an investigation -- but over a week passed since the woman's arrest, before finally being freed today. The Saudi Arabian government and national media now claims the woman has pledged to take no further part in an campaign to encourage Saudi women to drive for the June 17, 2011 campaign.

The nation's al-Hayat newspaper claims Sharif felt “profound gratitude to King Abdullah” for freeing her. Activists say it's unlikely the woman repented unless forced to do so.

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