Saudi Arabia Bans USA License Plate, Allows Marriage of 8-Year-Old

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Flag of Saudi Arabia

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a man cannot drive a car with “USA” on his license plate—but he can marry pre-pubescent girls, according to separate media reports coming out of the Middle East country. The restriction on automobile license plates stems from new regulations limiting the kind of three-letter words that are permissible on vanity plates. Saudi car owners are increasingly using Roman lettering instead of Arabic characters on their license plates, resulting in words like “sex” and “ass” appearing on the back ends of cars. Words that are now restricted include “but” and “bar,” along with “USA.” Saudi officials have not explained why the latter is now unacceptable for license plates.

Meanwhile, a Saudi judge refused again to annul the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 47-year-old man. The girl’s mother has sought since last year to dissolve the marriage, which the girl’s father arranged in order to pay off some bad debts. Now divorced, the mother tried in December to annul the marriage, only to have her petition rejected by the judge, Sheikh Habib Al-Habib, who said she was not the legal guardian of the child at that time. The mother tried again to petition for an annulment, but the same judge ruled that the matter will have to wait until the girl reaches puberty, at which time she herself can petition for divorce.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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