I am having this issue for the past few days and cannot solve it.

When I put a .htaccess and *only* enable RewriteEngine, I get 403 errors for almost everything.

Error message in log file as follows:
Options FollowSymLinks or SymLinksIfOwnerMatch is off which implies that RewriteRule directive is forbidden
I've got a pointer from an old thread on some other forum:

Sounds like .cgi is setup to run under the server process/group owner only. I don't think there is anything you can do without changing the group that the server is running as. (anyone confirm?)

Does anyone have a clue on what to do? I seem not to be able to run some perl scripts too... This wraper (SuSE i beleive) is very annoying.