Saudi Women Ask Clinton Why She Hasn’t Supported Female Drivers

A group campaigning for the right of Saudi women to drive sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking why she hasn’t expressed support for those who defied a ban on driving last week.

More than 50 women got behind the wheels of their cars on June 17, according to Saudi Women for Driving, a group of women’s-rights activists, bloggers and academics challenging the world’s only ban on female drivers. No arrests were reported.

In a letter released today, the group said it asked Clinton in a June 3 letter to “make a public statement supporting our right to drive.”

“Three days ago, on June 17, more Saudi women drove a car than ever before,” the group said in today’s letter. “But as we launch the largest women’s rights movement in Saudi history, where are you when we need you most? In the context of the Arab Spring and U.S. commitments to support women’s rights, is this not something the United States’s top diplomat would want to publicly support?”

The group sent a similar letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

The driving campaign began last month when a group of Saudis called on women with international driver’s licenses through the Facebook and Twitter social-networking websites to get in their cars and drive on June 17. They insisted their plan wasn’t a protest. Saudi Arabia, holder of the world’s biggest oil reserves, has avoided the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked the Arab world this year.