King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has revoked a sentence of 10 lashes given to a Saudi woman for driving her car.
The news came in a tweet from Princess Amira Al Taweel, wife of the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who wrote: “Thank God, the lashing of Sheima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King. I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am.”
Arab news channel Al Arabiya confirmed that the sentence had been revoked, but no official statement from the government or royal court has been released.
Shaima Ghassaniya was sentenced Monday by a court in Jeddah, a day after women in Saudi Arabia gained the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections in 2015.
The sentence was condemned by a number of rights groups worldwide, including Amnesty International, which said it demonstrated the “scale of discrimination against women in the kingdom.”
For the past several months, Saudi women have been protesting the ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom by taking to the wheel in increasing numbers. Activist Manal al-Sharif even filmed herself driving. She was arrested and then released from jail after pledging to take no further part in campaigning for Saudi women to drive.
While no laws prohibit women from driving, conservative religious edicts have banned it in Saudi Arabia.