Saudi Women Protest Tradition by Driving

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Several women in Saudi Arabia are staging a protest simply by driving. At least five women have been detained for breaking with Islamic tradition and driving their vehicles.

Women are forbidden to drive in the Islamic kingdom, but dozens are driving the streets in Riyadh and in other cities in an effort to change tradition.

In the ultraconservative Muslim country, women can only appear in public when escorted by a male relative.

Saudi Arabia has no written law barring women from driving - only fatwas, or religious edicts, by senior clerics following a strict brand of Islam known as Wahabism.

Saudi authorities are trying to put a stop to the protests.

Saudi-based rights activist Eman al-Nafjan told The Associated Press that police detained one woman on Tuesday while driving in Jiddah on the Red Sea coast.

Al Nafjan also said four other women accused of driving were later detained in the city, adding that there has been no new information on the status of the detainees.

"This is the first big push-back from authorities, it seems," al-Nafjan said. "We aren't sure what it means at this point and whether this is the start of a harder line by the government against the campaign."

The group, Saudi Women for Driving, said their campaign was inspired by the Arab uprisings against autocratic rulers and appealed for high-level Western backing.

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