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Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has revoked the sentence of 10 lashings that a woman was meant to receive for driving in the kingdom, according to a tweet from a Saudi princess’s Twitter account.
Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel tweeted the news Wednesday, saying, “Thank God, the lashing of Shaima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King. I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am.”
When another Twitter user asked if it was officially news, Al-Taweel tweeted again, saying: “Yes, it is official, Prince Alwaleed just confirmed it to me.”
Though the princess’s account isn’t verified, it does seem to be her official account. The Twitter account for Arab news channel Al Arabiya (@AlArabiya_Eng) is also repeating the princess’s words.
The news comes just one day after the sentencing, which took place when Shaima Jastaina was found guilty for driving without the government’s permission. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women — Saudi and foreign alike — are not allowed to drive. Though no written law prevents women from getting behind the wheel, religious rulings against women driving have been enforced by the police. As a result, the social media-based Women2Drive movement formed a few months ago, asking Saudi women — specifically those with international driver’s licenses or licenses from other countries — to drive their own cars June 17. Numerous women have continued driving since that date, tweeting and posting YouTube videos as evidence.
Shelby Knox — director of organizing, women’s rights — at Change.org, which has worked with activist group Saudi Women for Driving on multiple occasions, says the organization has heard enough from people it trusts to believe the news is true.
“We’ve heard from Saudi activists on the ground that the king revoked the 10 lashings,” Knox says, adding that this typically means that the charges should be dropped. “We are hearing some reports that her husband was asked to sign a pledge that he would not allow her to drive anymore under a penalty to him.”
According to an earlier statement from Saudi Women for Driving, Jastaina holds an international driver’s license and claims she had been driving her car because a family member was sick and had to be taken to the hospital.
The sentencing itself came two days after King Abdullah, who is considered a reformer within his ultraconservative kingdom, declared that Saudi women would have the right to vote and run in local elections by 2015.