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.