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Saudi authorities pursue Twitter user over women driving threat

Women driving

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor issued an arrest warrant on Saturday for a Twitter user who called for anyone who supports women driving to be killed, days after a royal decree ended a long-time ban on women taking the wheel.

The Twitter user, who was not named, was alleged to have referred to men who support women driving as “cuckolds who should be killed,” according to state-linked Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The prosecutor’s announcement comes two days after a separate arrest warrant was issued for a man who threatened in a video clip posted online to attack women drivers.

Many Saudis welcomed Tuesday’s announcement by King Salman lifting the ban by next year, but others expressed opposition online or in quiet conversations after decades of support for the policy by prominent clerics.

In the statement, the prosecutor vowed to monitor for threats of abuse and pursue cases against those who “incite attacks against society and violations of the rights of others”.

Saudi women’s activist vows to return and drive

Earlier this week, a Sydney-based Saudi rights activist who led a campaign for women to drive in the conservative kingdom vowed to return and become one of the first to legally get behind the wheel.

Manal-al-Sharif

Sydney-based Saudi rights activist Manal-al-Sharif, courtesy: AFP.

Manal al-Sharif was imprisoned for nine days after posting a video of herself on YouTube and Facebook driving her car around the eastern city of Khobar in 2011 at the height of the “Women2Drive” protest movement.

She said King Salman’s historic decree this week allowing women to drive from next June brought her to tears.

“I can’t describe the joy I am feeling. This is a truly historic day,” she told The Australian newspaper.

“I’m being honest. I just cried. There had been rumours but you never dare believe them.”

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world to ban women driving, and it was seen globally as a symbol of repression in the Gulf kingdom.

With additional input from AFP.

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