S.Arabia: Saudi women don't want to drive, Justice minister

Other religions allowed, but no churches on land sacred to Islam

23 April, 16:53

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, APRIL 23 - Saudi Arabian Justice Minister Mohammed al-Isa defended the kingdom's human rights record at a hearing on Tuesday before the European Parliament's foreign affairs commission.

    ''We respect freedom of opinion and human rights, so long as they don't infringe on public order and the rights of others'', the minister explained. Other faiths are banned from building churches and temples in Saudi Arabia because it is ''a land sacred to Islam. Other uses would be unacceptable. It would be like building a mosque in the Vatican: it's a question of principle'', the minister said. ''But this does not mean people aren't allowed to profess other religions''.

    The minister went on to explain why Saudi women don't drive.

    ''There are no laws or religious texts banning Saudi Arabian women from driving, but they abstain because they have no desire to do so. This is a model based on our social culture. It is up to them to accept or refuse. If the majority of women were to decide they want to drive, no one would stop them'', the minister alleged. (ANSAmed).

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