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Published: Monday, 6/20/2011

Saudi activists urge female diplomats in U.S. and Europe to back women behind the wheel


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A coalition of Saudi activists is urging the West’s top women diplomats to publicly support a campaign by women in Saudi Arabia to win the right to drive.

The group, Saudi Women for Driving, says it sent letters Monday to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton appealing for statements backing the effort to end the male-only driving rules in the Western-allied kingdom.

About 40 Saudi women got behind the wheel Friday, saying they were beginning a campaign to lift the restrictions in the ultraconservative Muslim country. No arrests were reported.

The Saudi activists say the Saudi campaign is inspired by the Arab uprisings and deserves high-level Western backing.

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