Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will give women the right to drive. But if they ask for anything else he says they can go straight to jail

Saudi Arabia is about to lift the ban on women driving. So it has started jailing defenders of women’s rights instead. This sounds like a scene from Through the Looking-Glass where the Red Queen announces that what seems obvious is the opposite of what is really obvious. This time the role of logic-defying royal is played by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will end the embarrassment of Saudi Arabia being the only nation to ban women from driving, but only, it seems, give those who stay quiet the right to drive.

In a country where many women have wider grievances than driving, the crown prince did not want the female activists who had campaigned for years for an end to the wrong-headed discrimination to become a model for revolt. Instead of arguments, the heir to the Saudi throne wanted silence. Having won a battle, the activists had made it plain that they were having none of it. They have paid for their pluck with their liberty, ending up behind bars while Saudi media besmirch their reputation as “traitors”. The protesters should be congratulated for taking a stand.

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