Women’s rights activists are ironically being punished for pushing the same agenda that led Saudi Arabia to lift the driving ban in the first place – and been praised internationally for it. However, the arrests are looking increasingly like a way to silence the activists in order to avoid having to give more rights to women.
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Many media reports speculate that MBC’s decision was made to punish Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for rushing to the aid of Qatar after it was subjected to a Saudi-led blockade. Turkey has also supported and harboured members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia considers a terrorist organization.
Saudi activists deny outright accusations that they are part of a wider Iranian conspiracy. Their only ambition, most say, is to be treated as equal citizens. Rights groups argue that doing so would be in the Saudi government’s best interests. The only way to end unrest in the eastern province, according to Google, is to give full rights to Shiites.