May 22, 2018

Saudi Arabia continues crackdown on women’s rights activists

A Saudi woman practices driving.

A Saudi woman practices driving in Riyadh. Photo: Yousef Doubisi/AFP/Getty Images

At least three additional women‘s rights activists have been arrested in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports, joining seven other people who were arrested under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's authority, who portrayed himself as bringing social reform to the kingdom.

Why it matters: A visiting professor at the London School of Economics, Madawi al-Rasheed, told Reuters: “Mohammed bin Salman wants all the credit for any kind of success story; he wants to tell the world and the audience that the rights of Saudi women and every Saudi citizen come from him.”

The details: Many of these arrests are of people — mostly women — who were involved in protesting the ban on women driving, which is set to be lifted soon. The government blamed the previous seven arrests on the people’s contacts with foreign entities, and offering financial aid to “enemies overseas,” per Reuters.

What they're saying: State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, “We support space for civil society and also free speech. But overall, we’re concerned about it and we’re keeping a close eye on it.”

Go deeper