Saudi Arabia detains seven activists ahead of lifting of driving ban

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 19, 2018, 06:16 PM IST

Representative image. Photograph:(Zee News Network)

Weeks ahead of Saudi Arabia is to lift the ban from women driving, seven women's rights activists were arrested on Saturday by the authorities.

The reason for the arrest is not cleared yet but media reports quoted activists saying that it was an attempt to silence the voices of women. However, the state's new channel has reported that arrests were made for allegedly working with foreign powers.

According to media reports, pro-government media outlets have also posted their photos and accused them of being "traitors".

Seven people who have been arrested include two-man -- Loujain al-Hathloul and Eman ak-Nafjan -- also all of them have raised their voices against the woman driving ban in past.

Another two woman activists, Nagjan and Hathloul have also been detained. Hathloul has been detained twice in the past. In 2014 she was detained after she attempted to drive across the border from the United Arab Emirates.

She was again briefly arrested for several days in 2017.

Among the various other reforms under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under his vision 2030, Saudi Arabia announced to lift the ban from women driving in September 2017. It will come into effect from June 2 and will allow women to drive cars, motorcycles and trucks.

Women drivers involved in road accidents traffic violations will be dealt at special centres established and run by women officials, noted an AFP report.

The vision 2030 is set to reduce the kingdom's dependence on oil and to diversify the economy and to also open up Saudi society.

Following these reforms, first film theatre was also opened in Riyadh, Saudi after a decade-long ban on theatres. Under which Saudi Arabia has reportedly planned to set up around 350 cinemas with over 2,500 screens by 2030 in hope to attract $1 billion through annual ticket sales.

Women are also allowed to join military services except the combat roles. The reforms have also allowed women to start their own business without taking permission from their husband or their guardian.