Ban on Women at Mecca Met with Resistance; Officials Reconsider
Women Muslims across the world have spoken out against recent proposals in Saudi Arabia to ban women from praying at the most sacred shrine for Muslims, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The Grand Mosque, which Muslims across the world face during daily prayers, is the annual destination for many Muslim pilgrimages each year. The proposed ban would be an attempt to reduce crowding, but the widespread opposition to the proposals has made Saudi officials reconsider.
Aisha Schwartz, founder and director of the Muslimah Writers Alliance, started a petition in protest of the proposals, which has already gathered over 1,000 signatures. The petition begins, “The religion of Islam was revealed for both men and women. Both sexes are equal when it comes to the performance of religious duties and in terms of rewards and punishments.” According to Arab News, Muslims in 38 countries have joined together to ensure that women cannot be denied access to mosques.
Reuters reports that the Saudi clerics and officials responsible for the proposals appear to have backtracked already. Instead of banning women, Mohammed bin Nasser al-Khozayem, the deputy head of Grand Mosque affairs, said that spaces designated for women may be expanded to reduce crowding.
Media Resources: Arab News 9/11/2006; Associated Press 9/8/2006; AKI 9/11/2006; Reuters 9/11/2006
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .