The Saudi Arabian government released Mayssa al-Amoudi and Loujain al-Hathloul from jail after 72 days after being imprisoned for driving. Women are not allowed to drive in the country.
Lisa Daftari from FOX News was one of the first to repost an Instagram picture from Amoudi, one of the women released.
Saudi Arabia: Woman imprisoned for defying female driver ban, released after 72 days, posts on instagram “Thank God” pic.twitter.com/DdYjnhr6KO
— Lisa Daftari (@LisaDaftari) February 12, 2015
Amoudi, 33, is a journalist and lives in the United Arab Emirates, which borders Saudi Arabia. On December 1, she drove to the border to “support friend Ms. Hathloul, 25, who tried to cross the border in her car one day earlier.” Activists claim Amoudi did not intend to cross the border, but authorities arrested her with Hathloul. The government also did not release a statement explaining why the women were released.
Saudi Arabia is America’s closest Arab ally in the Middle East, but the country treats women like second-class citizens and rules the country by Sharia law. Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan caused international outrage when he justified the ban, claiming that driving harms a woman’s ovaries. Women are not even allowed to attend a doctor appointment without a male guardian. Courts outlawed “tempting eyes” (attractive eyes) and sentenced a woman to 50 lashes when she cursed at the religious police.
In December, the country caused more outrage when Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh announced there is “nothing wrong” with girls under the age of 15 getting married. Human rights activists hoped the country would at least set the minimum marriage age at 15.
The country faced backlash in January after a man released a video of a brutal public execution of a woman in the city of Mecca. A court convicted her of sexually abusing and murdering her stepdaughter. She screamed her innocence as four officers held her down while another man beheaded her, “using three blows to complete the act.”
King Salman ascended to the throne on January 23. He “ordered a general amnesty to prisoners of ‘public rights.’” But since he took control, the country has continued to behead people. Prince Charles is on friendly terms with the royal family and is on an official visit to the oil-rich country. Human rights activists hope the prince will use the visit to encourage the country to respect basic human rights. From The Independent:
Adam Coogle, a MENA researcher for HRW, said there are so many executions taking place in the Arab state that it is not unusual for one to take place on the same day as an international visit.
He told The Independent that out of the 28 executions which occurred in January and February 2015, 11 were for non-violent drug offences – an “extraordinarily high” figure he condemned as “particularly egregious”.
“Between 1 January and 4 August 2014, only 15 executions took place,” he claimed. “They finished the year on 87, and that pace has continued. If they keep on this pace it will be a record in the context of the past two years.”