Religious leader is Saudi Arabia want to restrict how much women can pray at the Grand Mosque in Makka. Women activist have vowed to fight any such attempts.
At present, women can pray in the immediate vicinity of the Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure inside the mosque, believed to have been built by Ibrahim (Abraham) – seen by Muslims as a prophet – and his son.
Osama al-Bar, head of the Institute for Haj Research, said: “The area is very small and so crowded. So we decided to get women out of the sahn [Kaaba area] to a better place where they can see the Kaaba and have more space.
“Some women thought it wasn’t good, but from our point of view it will be better for them … We can sit with them and explain to them what the decision is.”
Uh, it was too crowded so we told the women to leave? That doesn’t sound like a good enough reason.
Suhaila Hammad, a Saudi woman member of a body of world Muslim scholars, said: “Both men and women have the right to pray in the House of God. Men have no right to take it away.
“Men and women mix when they circumambulate the Kaaba, so do they want to make us do that somewhere else too?
“This is discrimination against women.”