Saudi man arrested after threatening to 'burn' women drivers

In a first, Saudi king issues decree allowing women to driveNewsweek

A Saudi man has been arrested after threatening to burn female drivers, the kingdom's ministry of interior said on Friday (29 September), just days after a royal decree lifted a ban on women driving in the kingdom.

The Interior Ministry said on Twitter that police in the eastern part of the kingdom had arrested a man for threatening to attack female drivers.

Saudi media quoted police as saying that the man in custody was in his twenties and that the arrest had been ordered by the regional governor.

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He was filmed saying "I swear to God, any woman whose car breaks down - I will burn her and her car." He was wearing a long traditional white robe in the video which was distributed online.

King Salman issued a decree allowing women to be given driving licenses on Tuesday (26 September).

The move was hailed as a clever political ploy by experts, who said it was part of the king's efforts to transform the image of the ultra conservative monarchy and appeal to the country's youth, who make up 50% of the population.

Many Saudis welcomed the decision, describing it as a major milestone for the country, but other more conservative citizens expressed confusion and anger at the reversal of the ban, which has received the backing of prominent clerics for decades.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that still bans women from driving. King Salman's decision to lift the ban was not the only landmark announcement in the wealthy kingdom this week.

The Shoura council, Saudi Arabia's advisory body, ruled on Friday (29 September) that women are now allowed issue fatwas, rulings on Islamic law.

The historic move ends 45 years of only men on the council being allowed to issue the legal pronouncements.

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King Salman of Saudi Arabia said women would be allowed to get their driving licenses in 2018 in a landmark announcement on 26 September 2017Reuters

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