Facebook page calls for beating Saudi women drivers
May 25 09:57 AM US/Eastern
A campaign has been launched on Facebook calling for men to beat Saudi women who drive their cars in a planned protest next month against the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on women taking the wheel.
The call comes as activists are demanding the release of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi woman who was jailed for defying the ban.
The page, titled "The Iqal Campaign: June 17 for preventing women from driving," refers to the Arabic name for the cord used to hold on the traditional headdress worn by many men in the Gulf, advocating the cord be used to hit women who dare to drive.
It has drawn over 6,000 "likes" on the popular social networking website.
Some on the page proposed distributing boxes of Iqals to youths and encouraging them use them to hit women who participate in the June 17 protest.
One joked about the price of Iqals going up due to men buying them before the protest.
The issue has sparked debate in the Saudi press.
The renowned novelist Abdo Khal, writing in Okaz, deplored the ban on women driving, and said he did not know "whether to laugh or cry" over the proposed Iqal campaign.
Ahmed Sayed Atif, writing in Al-Watan, called for women be allowed to drive, and that they not arrested for not possessing a driver's licence, as can happen now.
Meanwhile, a Facebook page titled "We are all Manal al-Sharif: a call for solidarity with Saudi women's rights," has been growing in popularity, with its number of "likes" rising by about 5,000 to more than 19,000 in a day.
"It is not a revolution, it is not a plot, it is not a gathering and it is not a protest -- we are only requesting to drive our cars," one post on the page said.