Thursday, September 21, 2006

From Saudi Arabia and Iran, on Women

Good news from Saudi Arabia. Remember the proposal to bar women from praying in certain areas around Kaaba? Well, the proposal has been rejected:

Saudis and expatriates have welcomed the decision taken by the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs to reject a proposal to shift the women's prayer area in the mataaf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba). The presidency has also decided to allocate 53 percent of the Grand Mosque to female worshippers.

"There is no truth in press reports that the presidency was planning to shift the women's prayer place in the mataaf to other areas inside the mosque. This was merely based on a proposal (made by a special panel)," Muhammad Nasser Al-Khozaim, vice chairman of the presidency, told reporters.

"No change has taken place in the prayer area for women in the mataaf. In fact, we have allocated two more wider spaces overlooking the Kaaba for women to pray," the official said emphasizing that women were equally entitled to the prayer complex as men.

The Iranian president Ahmadinejad was asked this question during his visit to the U.N. in New York:

You are the president of Iran and you have the opportunity to enforce justice. Reports coming from Iran seem to indicate that student movements are being repressed, that justice is not being served, as far as the followers of the Baha'i faith, as well as for women, who object to the Islamic laws that discriminate against them.

And what did he answer? Read his answer for yourself and then tell me whether he answered any part of the question. I certainly didn't find him mentioning women's rights.