Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior has warned authorities
will crackdown on protesters on both sides of the debate over whether women
should be allowed to drive in the kingdom.
Hundreds of women are expected to defy decades of
tradition and get behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia on Saturday as part of an
They already have been posting pictures and videos online
of themselves driving during the past month to draw attention to the issue.
It is not illegal for women to drive in the kingdom but tradition
has long held that they do not and they are often harassed by religious police
if they are caught doing so.
In a statement on Wednesday, a ministry spokesman warned
that group gatherings and marches including the planned convoy of female
drivers on Saturday were illegal – for those on either side of the debate.
“Regulations in Saudi Arabia prohibit any action that
disturbs social peace and opens the door for sedition and responds to the
illusions of prejudiced intruders with sick dreams,” the spokesman said, as
translated from Arabic by Arab News.
“[The ministry] appreciates the concerns expressed by
many citizens on the importance of preserving security and stability and
avoiding whatever calls for society division and classification.
“Authorities will implement regulations against all
Three female members of the Shoura Council, which advises the government, have
recommended women be given the right to drive.
In response, opponents, led by a group of women, have
written to the Royal Diwan claiming that allowing women to drive would put the
social fabric, family values and security at risk, as well as increase traffic
Conservatives also argue that it would encourage men and
women to mix freely in public, threatening morality.
On Tuesday it was reported that 200 clerics had visited the royal court in
Jeddah to make a case against women driving.