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  • » 09/26/2011, 00.00

    SAUDI ARABIA

    Riyadh: even women can vote. But only in four years



    King Abdullah announces on television that women have the right to vote and be elected to municipal councils. He added that some may be called to the Shura Council, an advisory body of the sovereign.
    Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz announced yesterday in a speech on state television that women in Saudi Arabia will, in the future, vote and stand for municipal elections. The king also said that they have the right to be appointed members of the Shura Consultative Council, the body which advises the king, who has absolute power, and has the right to propose laws. Saudi Arabia, which applies a very strict version of Sunni Islam (Wahhabism) puts many restrictions on the activities and social rights of women, who can not drive vehicles, or leave the house or the country unaccompanied by a male relative.

    "Because we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior clerics and others... to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from next term, "said Abdullah, who added:"Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote”. Ten years ago, the king said that women should have a central role in the Saudi Arabian economy. Since then there have been gradual changes, for fear of repercussions from the religious radicals. (09.20.2011 Ban on Saudi women leads to election boycott).

    The king's decision, which is of great importance, even if the municipal councils have very limited powers, came after protests by women to obtain the right to vote. (Pictured: Saudi women demonstrate in front of a polling station, demanding inclusion). The king's decision tends to reduce the tension that has arisen around this problem in the country. More than five thousand men will compete Sept. 29 in the municipal elections, the second ever held in Saudi Arabia. The other half of the councilors are appointed by the government. The next elections will take place in four years.
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    See also

    12/12/2015 SAUDI ARABIA
    Women vote for first time in Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections
    978 candidates are women, compared to almost 6 thousand men. 130 thousand women and 1.35 million men registered to vote. Separate polling stations for men and women. Municipalities single government agency subject to a vote. Saudi activist: not a "change", but a first step on the "right track."

    27/04/2010 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.

    29/09/2011 SAUDI ARABIA
    Saudi king overturns ruling: no flogging for the woman driver
    Shema Ghassaniya was sentenced to 10 lashes for made a film, while she was driving a car through the streets of Jeddah. The announcement via Twitter by Princess Amira. In Riyadh a woman detained for hours and then released for the same violation. Women's movement for civil rights is growing.

    25/09/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
    First Saudi university to allow men and women together
    The new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology opens in a town not far from Jeddah. According to the university’s charter, Saudi Arabia’s religious police will not be allowed to operate on its premises but women will be allowed to drive. By next year, 817 students from 61 countries should be enrolled.

    02/08/2005 SAUDI ARABIA
    King Fahd laid to rest amidst tight security and public indifference
    Dignitaries from 36 countries attend the funeral, but locals shrug off the event: "He didn't do anything for us".



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