Hatoon al-Fassi joins more than a dozen women targeted in a recent government crackdown on women’s rights activism — even as the country ended its ban on women driving on June 24.
“This crackdown has been so unrelenting and so vicious that we don’t see how the Saudi feminist movement is going to come back up after this, “explained Human Rights Watch researcher Hiba Zayadin.
Al-Fassi has been fighting for women’s rights to vote and drive for decades. She wrote the book “Women in Pre-Islamic Arabia: Nabataea,” arguing that Saudi women were treated better in ancient times than today. She’s also been outspoken on an international stage, which human rights activists believe is the reason the government targeted her.
According to Saudi Arabia state media, the government also labeled other activists “traitors” for their “contact with foreign entities with the aim on undermining the country’s stability and social fabric.”
“International journalists are unable to speak to activists on the inside,” said Zayadin. “Even Saudi activists on the outside are afraid to speak out, just in case their own families might be targeted. At this point, they’re being publicly slandered. They’re being branded as traitors. I mean, this is unprecedented.”
Al-Fassi last tweeted on June 21 — three days before the country’s ban on women driving ended. She planned to drive journalists around to celebrate.