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Copyright 2024 Human Rights Foundation

Manal al-Sharif

Saudi activist and Women2Drive organizer

Manal al-Sharif is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia and one of the primary organizers of the Women2Drive campaign, which advocates for women’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia. She garnered international attention after posting a video on YouTube of herself driving, an act of civil disobedience. In retaliation, the Saudi government detained al-Sharif and charged her with “disturbing public order” and “inciting public opinion.” She was released nine days later, after an international campaign on her behalf. The New York Times described al-Sharif’s campaign as a “budding protest movement” that the Saudi government tried to swiftly extinguish,” attributing al-Sharif’s detention to the Saudi authorities’ fear of a wider protest movement in the country. Foreign Policy named al-Sharif one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011,” and in 2012, she was one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People.” She is also a Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent Laureate. In 2017, al-Sharif published her book, Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening.

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