Several Saudi women took the wheel yesterday to break the siege on driving in Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving cars. The campaign to drive was announced on Facebook, and fueled by conversations on other social media platforms, such as micro-blogging site Twitter.
Laila Sindi, from Jeddah, shares her experience in a series of tweets [ar].
خرجنا فعلا في الساعة ٩ تماما وبهدوء خرجنا الى شارع النزهة.. وكانت الشوارع هادئة نسبيا لكنها لم تكن خالية ورآنا بعض الناس #women2drive
We left at 9am sharp and calmly left to the Nuhza Street.. the streets were relatively clear but they were not empty and some people saw us
Laila sums up the reactions of passers-by as follows:
منهم من لوح لنا بالتشجيع ومنهم من أشار لنا بالعودة.. لكن لم تأكلنا أي ذئاب.. #women2drive
Some of the people waved to us in encouragement while others gestured for us to return … but there were no wolves which ate us
Ten minutes into the drive, the unexpected happens:
في خلال ١٠ دقائق انتهينا من شارع الستين ووصلنا بداية الخط الدائري ولقينا نقطة تفتيش..رغم اننا تأكدنا مرارا من عدم وجود قطة هناك #women2drive
After 10 minutes, we completed the 60th Street and started on the beginning of the circular road. There we met a checkpoint despite checking so many times that there wouldn't be a checkpoint in that place
At the checkpoint, an officer and a soldier asked them to stop the car and step out of it. Laila explains:
نزلنا وطلب منا الملازم الركوب في سيارته وكانت من نوع الفورد.. ركبنا كلنا في المقعد الخلفي ولم يقل لنا شيئا لكن صادر حقائبنا #women2drive
We got down and the officer asked us to go into his car, which was a Ford. We all got into the back seat. He did not say anything to us but took our bags away
لم يرد علينا أبدا في البداية.. بعد قيادة ٢٠ دقيقة تقريبا أوقف السيارة على جانب طريق الدائري ونزل منها وأغلق الأبواب وبدأ القلق #women2drive
He did not speak to us at all in the beginning and after 20 minutes of driving he stopped his car on the side of the circular road and got out of the car, locking us in. This is when we started to get worried
While outside, the soldier spoke on the phone:
نزل وتكلم بجواله ثم عاد وأخذ حقائبنا وخرجبدأ في تفتيشها خارج السيارة.. أعترف أنني بدأت أصرخ وأشتم وصديقتنا انهارت وتبكي #women2drive
He went down and spoke on his mobile phone, then came back, took our bags and started searching them outside the car. I admit that I started screaming and cursing and our friend broke down crying
About 15 minutes later, the soldier returned to the car, handing the girls back their bags, but keeping their mobile phones so that they don't record any footage or call their relatives.
هددته بالفضيحة والمقاضاة فلم يرد وقالت له سناء بنت عمي أن والدها سيرفع دعوى فلم يرد وقاد السيارة الى طريق العابدية وقلقنا جدا #women2drive
I threatened him that I would create a scandal for him and take him to court. Sana, my cousin, told him that her father was a lawyer and would lodge a case against him but he did not respond. He drove the car to the Abidiya Road and we got really worried
وهو يقود السيارة قال لنا أن هدأتوا ستكون التمور بخير وطبعا لم نسكت ولم نتوقف عن التهديد وفجأة أوقف السيارة وصرخ: وربي انا معكم #women2drive
While driving the car, he told us to calm down and things will be fine. Of course, we did not remain calm nor stop our threatening. He suddenly stopped the car and yelled at us: “I swear to God I am on your side.”
هذا مجمل اللي حصل وسامحوني على التويتات الكثيرة.. اعترف ان جسمي ما زال يتنافض من كثر القلق والفجعة #women2drive
This is a summary of what had happened so excuse me for the large number of tweets. I admit that my body is still shivering from the worry and horror
Many videos were uploaded on YouTube, showing women driving their cars in the Kingdom. Estimates show that between 20 to 50 women challenged the ban on driving and got behind the wheels. The news was relayed on social networks, where even husbands showed off their wives driving skills.
Aziza134 shares this video showing a woman driving:
On Storify, PaulTOwen shares this collection of Twitter reactions to women driving in Saudi here.
For more reactions on Twitter, follow the hash tag Women2Drive