Saudi officials say the country’s strict codes against political dissent on the Internet will be applied to anyone offering online support for a planned protest by women challenging the male-only driving rules in the ultraconservative kingdom.
The warning widens the possible fallout from the expected campaign by Saudi women to get behind the wheel on Saturday in defiance of Saudi traditions. The Internet has been a key tool in organizing the protest and reaching out to media.
Friday’s edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat quotes Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Turki al-Faisal as saying cyber-laws could apply to anyone supporting the women driving campaign. Conviction can bring up to five-year prison sentences.
Though no specific law bans women from driving, the rules are enforced by Saudi Arabia’s powerful Islamic establishment.