A Saudi man has been arrested for allegedly threatening to attack women drivers, following a royal decree that ends a ban on women driving in the kingdom.
The man, in his 20s, posted a video online where he stated that if he saw a woman behind the wheel of a car that had broken down, he would ‘burn her and her car’.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman announced on Tuesday that he will be allowing women to drive from June 2018.
No thumbs up: The Saudi man, in his 20s, was arrested after posting a video online where he stated that if he saw a woman behind the wheel, he would ‘burn her and her car’
The ministry said on Twitter that police in the kingdom’s Eastern Province had arrested the suspect, who was not identified, and referred him to the public prosecutor.
‘I swear to God, any woman whose car breaks down – I will burn her and her car,’ said a man wearing a traditional white robe who appeared in a short video distributed online earlier in the week.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
Saudi media, including the Arabic-language Okaz newspaper, quoted the Eastern Province’s police spokesman as saying the man in custody was in his 20s and that the arrest had been ordered by its governor.
Reserved: The parking space reserved for Latifa Al Shaalan, a member of the country’s Shura Council, who campaigned for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia,
Meanwhile, a female politician who led the campaign for women to be allowed to drive, says she was moved to tears to be given her own parking space.
Latifa Al Shaalan, a member of the country’s Shura Council, is believed to be the first woman in Saudi Arabia to have a public parking space with her own name on it.
She arrived at the council’s offices in the Al Yamamah Palace, in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh, to be presented with a bouquet of flowers and her own parking space.
Latifa said: ‘When I arrived in the Shura Council this morning, I was welcomed by women with a bouquet of roses and by men who presented to me a picture of the parking space at the council reserved for me.
‘It is a glorious day and I have been fighting back tears. I congratulate all Saudi women and I thank immensely King Salman.’
Latifa, the most prominent advocate for the right of Saudi women to drive in their country, had earlier told the Shura Council that she had been unable to sleep from the excitement generated by King Salman’s decision.
And she added that the blame for Saudi Arabia taking so long to allow women to drive rested with the council and not the monarch.
She added: ‘I am not going to refer to all the positive political, economic, social and security aspects of the decision because my colleagues and I presented them in several motions to allow women to drive.’
Latifa blamed the Council for not following through with the motions and recommendations earlier.
Finally: As of June 2018, women in Saudi Arabia will join every single other country on earth in being allowed to drive cars
She said: ‘The Shura Council is lagging light years behind the government and is dislocated from reality, the vision, the national transformation and the mobility of the government.
‘We are supposed to race ahead of the government, but because this will not happen, we should at least keep up with its initiatives and ensure we are not always lagging behind.’
‘King Salman took such a bold decision amid all these challenges and open fronts. We represent different opinions, ideas and movements, and this is normal. Let us accept our differences and always allow votes to decide without disruption or the hijacking of opinions and initiatives.
‘The Council should shift its attention from recommendations about palm weevil, industrial cities and fruit silos to recommendations about cultural, social and human rights issues.’
The Shura Council is the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia. It cannot pass or enforce laws, which is a power reserved for the King. It has 150 members, all of whom are appointed by the King.
Many Saudis welcomed the lifting of the ban, but some expressed confusion or outrage after the reversal of a policy that has been backed for decades by prominent clerics.
However, women in Saudi Arabia are still not allowed to marry, divorce, open a bank account, or get a job without permission from a male relative or husband.
They also cannot have any interaction a man who she is not related to without permission from a male guardian, and have no rights in custody battles when the children reach a certain age.