RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Around 150 clerics and religious scholars held a rare protest outside the Saudi king’s palace Tuesday against fresh efforts by women seeking the right to drive.
Some of the senior religious leaders who protested outside the palace said the United States was behind a campaign calling for women to drive on Oct. 26 that claims to have garnered 16,000 signatures.
The government has not cracked down on the driving campaign, and King Abdullah is believed to favor some social reforms. The protest by clerics, who are among the most influential voices in Saudi Arabia, shows the challenge he faces in pushing gently for change without antagonizing conservative segments of the population.
The hard-line Saudi religious establishment has sway over the courts and oversees the often-zealous religious police.
Since the right to drive campaign launched last month, Saudi women have been uploading videos and sharing pictures online of themselves driving.
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