Saudi King Abdullah has again taken a step toward modernity. Yesterday, he revoked a sentence of 10 lashes imposed on a woman who drove a car. This follows his earlier decision to allow women to vote. The problem is that there is no law criminalizing driving by women. It is a religious edict which continues to apply to citizens with the same force of the law.
Sheima Jastaniah was sentenced on Monday in Jeddah. There is a brave group of civil libertarians and feminists in Saudi Arabia who continue to fight for basic rights. Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of the king, has been the most outspoken in promoting more freedoms for women in Saudi Arabia and civil libertarians in the U.S. need to offer more support to his efforts and the women who are on the frontline for individual rights in the Kingdom.
These problems will continue, however, so long as extreme religious views are given the force of law in the country — leaving women under the constant threat of religious charges and corporal punishment.