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Muslim Woman Tragically Dies in Car Crash While Protesting Saudi Driving Ban

"This is what happens when women are allowed to drive."

In May 2011, we brought you the story of Manal al-Sherif, a brave Saudi activist who went out of her way to defy the kingdom's female driving ban. Tragically, a woman who was inspired to follow in her footsteps died over the weekend after a 4x4 she was riding in overturned.

The unnamed woman, a passenger in the car, was killed instantly, while the female driver was hospitalized with injuries.

"One woman was immediately killed and her companion who was driving the car was hospitalised after she suffered several injuries," said Abdulaziz al-Zunaidi, a police spokesman.

This is the latest development in the fight against Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers. The nation is the only one in the world that refuses to offer this right, though females continue to take great risks by purposefully acting against the restriction.

You may recall that al-Sherif posted a video of herself driving on Facebook and YouTube last year. As a result, she was arrested and held by Saudi authorities for 10 days. In the clip, she was seen driving around the city of Khobar, while chatting about the ban.

Here's the original video:

And here's a translated version:

Al-Sharif was also among a group of women who started a Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself,” which urges authorities to lift the driving ban, while working to inspire others to join the cause.

"This is a volunteer campaign to help the girls of this country" learn to drive, al-Sharif says in the video. "At least for times of emergency, God forbid. What if whoever is driving them gets a heart attack?”

She has gone on to become a hero, as she inspired others to get behind the wheel in an effort to defeat the ban. Saudi Arabia has no written law barring women from driving – only fatwas, or religious edicts, by senior clerics following a strict brand of Islam known as Wahhabism.

In September, another woman — Shaima Ghassaniya — was found guilty of driving without the government’s permission. While she was condemned to have 10 lashes for her purported actions, the government inevitably overturned the sentence.

The kingdom, despite protests, has continued to defend the ban. A report from academics last year, as reported by the Telegraph, came to some bizarre conclusions about why women shouldn't be allowed to drive:

It pointed out that “moral decline” could already be seen in those other Muslim countries in which women are allowed to drive.

In the report Prof Subhi described sitting in a coffee shop in an unnamed Arab state where “all the women were looking at me”.

“One made a gesture that made it clear that she was available,” he said. “This is what happens when women are allowed to drive.”

For females, traveling -- even by cab -- can be especially difficult, especially considering that some taxis will refuse to drive them if they are without a male chaperone.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

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