Saudi Arabia has freed three high-profile women’s rights activists that were among a group of at least 10 who were arrested by the conservative government last week, according to fellow activists and Amnesty International. It was unclear why Aisha al-Manea, Hassa al-Sheikh, and Madeha Alajroush were freed while others, such as Loujain al-Hathloul, remain in custody. Al-Manea, al-Sheik, and Alajroush have all protested against the country’s driving ban, which is set to end next month, since the 1990s. The three activists were reportedly not among those named as traitors consorting with “enemies overseas” by state media during last week’s crackdown. Other women’s rights advocates have expressed concern that the remaining detainees will likely stay in jail for months before even being charged with a crime.
While new Saudi crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has been hailed for helping end the women’s driving ban, he has faced criticism over his apparent manipulation of his aged father, King Salman, who he has allegedly prevented from meeting his wife, Princess Fahda bint Falah al Hathleen, for more than two years. According to Reuters, moves toward providing women with greater rights have also been “accompanied by a crackdown on dissent” in the Muslim kingdom. Activists and diplomats have said that the arrests may be a move to appease conservatives upset by the kingdom’s progressive trend, as well as a warning to activists to not question what rights the government is willing to allow them.
Read the full story at Reuters.