Saudis pursue Twitter user who threatened to kill men who supported women driving

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Twitter user who was not named referred to men who support women driving as 'cuckolds who should be killed'

Saudi women are to be allowed to drive after a royal decree was issued on 26 September 2017 (AFP)
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Saturday 30 September 2017 15:12 UTC
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Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor issued an arrest warrant on Saturday for a Twitter user who called for anyone who supports women driving to be killed, days after a royal decree ended a long-time ban on women taking the wheel.

The Twitter user, who was not named, was alleged to have referred to men who support women driving as "cuckolds who should be killed," according to state-linked Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The prosecutor's announcement comes two days after a separate arrest warrant was issued for a man who threatened in a video clip posted online to attack women drivers.

The ministry said on Twitter that police in the kingdom's Eastern Province had arrested the suspect, who was not identified and referred him to the public prosecutor.

"I swear to God, any woman whose car breaks down - I will burn her and her car," said a man wearing a traditional white robe who appeared in a short video distributed online earlier in the week.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

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Saudi man arrested after threats to burn women drivers in their cars

Saudi media, including the Arabic-language Okaz newspaper, quoted the Eastern Province's police spokesman as saying the man in custody was in his 20s and that the arrest had been ordered by its governor.

Separately, Okaz reported late on Thursday that authorities directed the interior minister to prepare an anti-harassment law within 60 days.

The directions cited "the danger posed by harassment ... and its contradiction with the values of Islam".

Saudi authorities have in the past taken a broad view of sexual harassment, including attempts by men to get to know unrelated women by asking to exchange phone numbers.

In a country where gender segregation has been strictly enforced for decades in keeping with the austere Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam, the end of the driving ban means women will have more contact with unrelated men, such as fellow drivers and traffic police.

The ban is a conservative tradition that limits women's mobility and has been seen by rights activists as an emblem of their suppression. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that still bans women from driving.

Many Saudis welcomed Tuesday's announcement by King Salman lifting the ban by next year, but others expressed opposition online or in quiet conversations after decades of support for the policy by prominent clerics.

In the statement, the prosecutor vowed to monitor for threats of abuse and pursue cases against those who "incite attacks against society and violations of the rights of others".