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Saudi Arabia Arrests Writer for Supporting Women Drivers

Tariq Al Mubarak - a Saudi writer in jail for supporting women in his country to drive. Photo credit: Eman Al Najfan @Saudiwoman

Tariq Al Mubarak – a Saudi writer in jail for supporting women in his country to drive. Photo credit: Eman Al Najfan @Saudiwoman

Saudi journalist and high school teacher Tariq Al Mubarak has been arrested – for lending his support to a campaign to allow women to drive in the absolute monarchy.

Activists had penciled in October 26 to challenge a driving ban imposed on women by encouraging them to drive.

According to reports, police checkpoints were set up on roads across the country to ensure that all drivers were men. For a long time, the ban on women driving was blamed on social and traditional peculiarities of Saudi Arabia. After October 26, and the detention of women who attempted to drive, the government's hand in the ban has become more evident.

Reporters without Borders has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Al Mubarak, who is being held at the Criminal Investigation Department since October 27, reportedly for articles he wrote criticising his country's ban on women drivers.

On Twitter, a hashtag #أطلقوا_طارق_المبارك [ar], which translates to Release Tariq Al Mubarak, has been gathering support.

Saudi blogger Tamador Al Yami asks readers to sign an online petition for his release:

She adds [ar]:

He has not broken any laws. He did not protest in front of the governor's court or ask for personal favours. He just voiced his opinion on a social matter. Is what is happening even possible to comprehend?

Ebtisam says:

Release Tariq Al Mubarak because he demanded our rights and got arrested for that. It is our turn to make demands on his behalf

Dr Waleed AlMajed notes:

Release Tariq Al Mubarak who was arrested for an issue which the government said was social and not political

And Madeha Al Ajroush asks:

Abo 3asam concludes:

The prisons of this country are like lungs: they imprison the clean Oxygen and release the dangerous Carbon Dioxide

According to the RSF's Press Freedom Index, Saudi Arabia is ranked 163rd out of 179 countries.

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