Tag Archives: Jeddah

Saudi Arabia: Traffic cops stop woman from driving

JEDDAH — Traffic police on Saturday pulled over a woman minutes after she got behind the wheel in Jeddah as part of a new campaign to get the driving ban lifted.

“Only 10 minutes after Tamador Al-Yami got behind the wheel police stopped her,” Eman Al-Nafjan said on her Twitter account, adding that Yami carries an international driving license and was with another woman who was filming her in the car.

Tamador’s husband was called to the scene and she was made to sign a pledge not to drive again without a Saudi license, said Nafjan.

Elsewhere in Al-Khobar, in the Eastern Province, another woman drove for two hours, accompanied by her husband, without being stopped, she said. On Oct. 26, at least 16 women were stopped by police for defying the driving ban.

Saturday was chosen as a symbolic date as part of efforts first launched a decade ago to press for the right for Saudi women to drive. — AFP


Saudi activist could be executed for alleged apostasy #KSA


Liberal activist Raef Badawi (Photo: Ahram)

A Saudi judge has recommended that a liberal activist be tried in a higher court for apostasy, a charge that could carry the death penalty, rights campaigners said Thursday.

A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom sentenced Raef Badawi in July to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for setting up a “liberal” network and for allegedly insulting Islam.

On Wednesday, a judge remanded Badawi to the General Court on charges of apostasy, rights lawyer Waleed Abulkhair told AFP.

After Badawi’s sentence, the appeals court had sent the case back to the court of first instance, where a newly-appointed judge remanded it to the General Court, saying his lower court was not qualified to deal with the case, Abulkhair explained.

Human rights activists said, however, that the apostasy charge was only a recommendation from the judge and not a decision.

But online news website Sabq.org quoted Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar as saying that “the new judge has requested the case be referred to General Court, and demanded the death penalty.”

Badawi, 35, was arrested in June last year in the Red Sea city of Jeddah for unknown reasons.

The network that he co-founded with female rights activist Suad al-Shammari had declared May 7, 2012 a “day of liberalism” in the kingdom, calling for an end to the domination of religion over public life in Saudi Arabia.

The strict version of Islamic sharia law applied in Saudi Arabia stipulates death as a punishment for apostasy, but defendants are usually given the chance to repent and escape being beheaded.

Saudi Arabia: Activist gets lashes and 4 year prison sentence for democracy call

He is the fourth member of the rights association to be jailed this year


Riyadh: A Saudi judge sentenced a political activist to 300 lashes and four years in prison for calling for a constitutional monarchy in Saudi Arabia, his rights group said on Sunday.

Omar Al Saeed is the fourth member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) to be jailed this year after the group issued statements attacking the ruling family over its human rights record and calling for democracy.

Saeed did not have legal representation at the secret hearing when he was sentenced, ACPRA said in a statement on its website.

“It’s just another troubling instance of Saudi authorities’ absolute refusal to countenance any activism or criticism of Saudi policies or human rights abuses,” said Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

A spokesman for the Justice Ministry said he could not comment on the report or confirm its accuracy.

Saudi Arabia’s only elections are for half the seats on relatively powerless town councils. Licensed media exercises stringent self censorship, public expressions of dissent are often not tolerated and demonstrations are banned.

During the Arab Spring in early 2011, protests were restricted to the Qatif district of Eastern Province.

Unrest was avoided after King Abdullah pledged $110 billion (Dh404 billion) in spending on social benefits and top clerics and tribal leaders said people should back the ruling family.

Foreign analysts say there appears to be little public demand for big political changes in Saudi Arabia now, although they point to evidence on social media of growing frustration at corruption, poverty and poor state services.

The government has denied charges by international rights groups that it used a campaign against Islamist militants over the past decade to stifle dissent.

However, human rights lawyers inside the country have said some of those sentenced in security courts, including a group jailed in Jeddah in late 2011, were peaceful activists put on trial for demanding political change.

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