16 September, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 04/27/2010
SAUDI ARABIA
Head of the religious police in Mecca, men and women can pray together
Ahmed al-Ghamdi says that the strict separation between the sexes that exists today did not exist at the time of Muhammad. Conservatives respond harshly: a fatwa says that he "must be killed." The official Saudi news agency reports his removal and a few hours later deletes the story. The issue also has economic implications.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) - The Saudi official news agency, SPA, had reported his dismissal only to delete all reports a few hours later, a fatwa says "he should be killed," the Grand Mufti has denied his authority to speak about Islamic law. He, Ahmed al Ghamdi (pictured), head of the religious police in Mecca, the first holy city of Islam, confirms his convictions: men and women can pray together and meet freely, even if only in public.

The episode has been strictly censored by Saudi Arabia, monitored by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the official name of the muttawa, the religious police. Of which Ghamdi is a senior official.

The question of the possibility of men and women “mixing” - in public, never in private - has for weeks been at the centre of a debate between scholars and politicians. Thus, the Saudi newspaper The National, has devoted a long article to the story, recalling the words of the Justice Minister Muhammad al Issa who warned against confusing public promiscuity, which he believes is allowed by Islam, with meetings in private between men and women who are neither married nor related by kinship, which is prohibited.

The problem is not merely one of religious tradition, it also has economic implications. The ban has in fact heavy negative influences on women's employment and foreign investment since it requires gender division even in the offices of international companies.

So, since December, when Ghamdi first spoke out on the issue, the question has occupied newspapers and television programs. A debate which is due to the climate of moderate reforms that King Abdullah is introducing into the country in an attempt to modernize it.

But the reaction of conservatives has been very hard. If Ghamdhi argues that the division did not exist at the time of Mohammed his opposers cry of violations of Sharia and apostasy. Sheikh Abdulrahman Al Barrak has issued a fatwa which says that promiscuity "as supported by modernists" is prohibited because it allows "the sight of what is forbidden and prohibited conversations between men and women." Anyone who facilitates such promiscuity is an infidel", and if not retracted "should be killed".  And finally, anyone who allows his daughter, sister or wife to work with men or to attend a mixed school is guilty of "a kind of prostitution".

On Sunday, the case seemed closed. The Commission's website published a statement from its Chairman Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humain according to which Ghamdhi had been replaced. The statement was picked up and reported by SPA.  Soon after, however, the agency wrote that the news was to be "deleted and not used".


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
05/24/2008 SAUDI ARABIA
A film festival in a land without movie theatres
09/25/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
First Saudi university to allow men and women together
01/26/2007 SAUDI ARABIA
Riyadh should “stop religious persecution of Ahmadis”
09/26/2011 SAUDI ARABIA
Riyadh: even women can vote. But only in four years
08/02/2005 SAUDI ARABIA
King Fahd laid to rest amidst tight security and public indifference

Editor's choices
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.