At the time of this writing, Saudi female activist Israa Al Ghomgham, in detention since December 2015, is waiting to be judged, together with four other (male) activists. After an international campaign against her death sentence, it was announced, at the end of January 2019, that she risks a long imprisonment instead (Brennan 2019). In August 2018 several media outlets announced her decapitation, probably the most tragic among many hoaxes circulating around Saudi Arabia in the last few years. This short piece questions how Western news media deal with women’s activism and its repression in Saudi Arabia, notably in the aftermath of the kingdom’s lifting of the ban on women’s driving.

Since May 15, 2018, at least thirteen activists advocating for women’s rights have been imprisoned, including Hatoon Al-Fassi, an editorial board member of JMEWS.1...

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