JEDDAH: A young Saudi woman detained for more than a week for breaking the ultra-conservative kingdom’s ban on women driving has appealed to King Abdullah for her release, her lawyer said Sunday.
"Manal Al-Sharif hopes that the king will order her release and close her file," her lawyer Adnan Al-Saleh said.
"Her morale is very high, and she is sure of herself," Saleh said, denying reports in various Saudi newspapers that she had collapsed after being detained and expressed regret for breaking the driving ban.
Sharif was arrested on May 21 while driving in the Eastern Province city of Al-Khobar, a day after she posted footage on the video-sharing website YouTube showing her behind the wheel.
Although traffic police released her after a few hours, the 32-year-old computer security consultant was later re-apprehended from her home by criminal investigation police, Saleh said, and ordered held for five days.
Saudi authorities on Thursday extended her detention for 10 days, a prison spokesman said.
A Facebook page titled "We are all Manal Al-Sharif: a call for solidarity with Saudi women’s rights," on Sunday had over 24,000 supporters.
"It is not a revolution, it is not a plot, it is not a gathering and it is not a protest — we are only requesting to drive our cars," one post on the page said.
And a petition calling for the release of Sharif had by Sunday garnered over 1,000 signatures. The petition, addressed to King Abdullah, demanded the release of Sharif, "pending a clear decision on the question of the right of women to drive" in the kingdom.
However, another Facebook page called on men to use "iqals" — the cords used with traditional headdresses by many Gulf men — to beat Saudi women who drive their cars in a planned June 17 protest against the kingdom’s ban on women taking the wheel.