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Saudi Arabia: Reforms Will Allow Women to Vote

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SAUDI ARABIA: Reforms will allow women to vote but not drive - latimes.com

REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia surprised his ultraconservative nation Sunday by announcing bold reforms that for the first time give women the right to vote, run for local office and serve on the Shura Council, the king’s advisory board.

The measures by an aging monarch who has battled Islamic hard-liners for years will marginally improve the standing of women in a country that still forbids them from driving or leaving the house without their faces covered. The moves appear likely to enrage religious conservatives while serving to advance at least a veneer of change in one of the world’s most repressive states.

“Because we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with sharia [Islamic law], we have decided ... to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from the next term,” the king said in a five-minute speech to his advisors.
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