A one-time overruling is not reform. Authorities still have the punishment to inflict if and when they see fit.
Outrage spread quickly over this sentence, and surely influenced the outcome, but another sentence at another time, or under the next king, may go forward without a reprieve.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has overturned a court ruling sentencing a woman to 10 lashes for breaking a ban on female drivers, reports say.
The ruling, although not officially confirmed, was tweeted by a Saudi princess and reported by AP news agency citing an unnamed official.
The woman, named as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
The sentence came two days after the king announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
The elderly king kicked the can so far down the road, he may not even be alive when 2015 finally arrives. A great deal can happen in four years, and there are ample forces within Saudi society that will strive to ensure the vote never happens, or the ballots from conveniently segregated women are not counted.
More on why the vote in this case is not as spectacular as it might sound can be found here.
“Thank God, the lashing of Shema is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved king,” tweeted Princess Amira al-Taweel, wife of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
“I am sure all Saudi women will be so happy.”
Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, reports say.
In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities to put pressure on the monarchy.
The Saudi interpretation of Islamic law includes the guardianship system under which women need permission from a male relative to participate in public life.
That is, to go outside.
However, correspondents say King Abdullah has struck a reformist stance since he ascended the throne in 2005, especially in regard to women’s rights.