Well, we knew it was coming and it didn’t take long. Four days after Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced the appointment of 30 women to the consultative Shoura Council, conservative clerics are raising hell. According to this Reuters piece, posted by Yahoo.com’s Maktoob portal, clerics were out in force — well, 50 — demonstrating in front of the Royal Court (that is, the palace). We’ll let slide for the moment the fact that demonstrations aren’t exactly legal in the Kingdom. And as for the fatwas banning public protest… different rules, I guess.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Dozens of Saudi clerics staged a rare protest in front of the Royal Court on Tuesday against King Abdullah’s decision to appoint women to a body that advises the government on new laws, a sign of growing conservative unease at modest social reforms.
On Friday, King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the Shura Council, giving them a fifth of the seats in the consultative body – a move he promised to make in 2011.
The kingdom’s top religious authorities including the Grand Mufti accepted that decision, but the gathering of about 50 clerics outside the Royal Court suggested wider disquiet among conservatives in the world’s top oil producer.
A Saudi activist in touch with the clerics confirmed the accuracy of photographs showing them standing in a group as they demanded a meeting with King Abdullah and his top aide Khaled al-Tuwaijri, seeking to offer them “advice”.