Publication Date: 
Tue, 2011-05-31 02:36

Speaking through an interpreter, attorney Adnan Al-Saleh told Arab News that Alkhobar police issued her release orders.
Khaled Al-Fakheri of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) confirmed to Arab News later that she was freed from the women's detention center in Dammam. “Yes, I can confirm, she has been released,” he said.
When she was first arrested by members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Alkhobar, she was asked to sign a mandatory paper stating that she would not break the Kingdom's laws again. She was released but rearrested the next day for violating public order. On Thursday, the authorities extended her detention for 10 days.
Reports of her release were the subject of intense discussion on social media websites. Many Saudis, especially from the burgeoning middle class, seemed delighted at the end of her ordeal.
Al-Sharif’s release was expected after she had withdrawn from the planned June 17 women’s driving protest and had tendered an apology for having violated driving laws. She had written a letter of appeal to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah seeking her release.
Her release comes after 10 days of detention. She attracted world attention with her public defiance.
Her lawyer had earlier appealed to relevant authorities to deal with Al-Sharif’s case on humanitarian grounds. “She did not commit a grave crime to merit a long detention,” he said.
Despite her situation, Al-Sharif earlier said she was not fearful because of her unwavering confidence in King Abdullah. “She has full faith in the country’s judicial system and believes that she will get a fair trial,” Al-Saleh said.
Al-Sharif, who is divorced, works for Saudi Aramco as an IT expert. Women have the liberty to drive within the oil company’s sprawling Dhahran housing compound.
Her arrest has put the focus on the country’s laws governing women driving. During the last 10 days many experts had stated that there was nothing in the written law that said women driving was illegal, a fact that Al-Sharif’s supporters on social media websites repeatedly cited.
They referred to certain statements in the past by top leaders that indicated that it was more of a social restriction rather than a legal one. It was also noted that Bedouin women often drove motor vehicles in remote areas.
However, Deputy Minister of Interior Prince Ahmad made it very clear last week that women driving automobiles is against the law. “A statement was issued in 1990 prohibiting women from driving cars in the Kingdom. The Ministry of Interior’s task is to implement an order. It is not our job to say something is right or wrong,” the prince said at a press conference in Madinah.

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