Well, the fox is loose in the chicken house. Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi, former head of the Mecca branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has come out saying that not only is veiling not required of Saudi women, but that their travel should be uninhibited and that there’s not problem with casual (but proper!) contact between the sexes in public.
This, of course, flies in the face of Saudi convention that seeks to contain and constrain women on nearly every front.
While I’m sure his comments will heat up social media, I’m not sure how much broader influence it will have. Still, his voice will be heard. Al Arabiya reports:
An influential Saudi cleric has issued a religious edict, commonly known as Fatwa, allowing women to travel without a male guardian, uncover their faces and eat alongside men.
In statements posted on Twitter, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Qassim al-Ghamdi, the former head of Mecca’s Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice committee, said: “It is permissible for people to look at what is not forbidden in women like their faces and their arms.”
In other statements, the cleric said women can travel without a male guardian provided that there is safety.
Al-Ghamdi backed his statements with references to sayings by prominent Muslim scholars in history.