Yemen: Feminists clash with planned 'moral police'

Sanaa, 18 July (AKI) - Yemeni religious and tribal leaders planning to create self-styled 'moral police' have launched a vitriolic attack against a move to reserve quotas for women in the parliament.

Shekih Abdul Majid al-Zindani described Yemeni president Abdullah Saleh's proposal to allocate 15 percent of parliamentary seats to women as "against the principles of Islamic (Sharia) law."

Al-Zindani announced on Tuesday he had founded the Authority for Protecting Virtue and Fighting Vice in Yemen.

The government however issued a statement the same day underlining that it alone should concern itself with citizen's rights and freedoms.

The planned 'moral police' has also met with strenuous resistance from various opposition parties.

The leadership of Yemen's Union of Women slammed a statement issued by the religious 'watchdog' saying it "undermined women and the fundamental role they play in building Yemeni society."

The new body has said it plans to comb the country's streets and 'root out' anything it deems to be vice, including coeducation in schools and universities and TV series played during the month of Ramadan.

The Authority for Protecting Virtue and Fighting Vice's central committee will contain 42 clerics from the Yemeni Clerics Association.

The 42 clerics released a statement expressing shock at the "spread of vices in the country". They said these vices included bringing Arab and foreign female singers and dancers to Yemen, opening nightclubs, broadcasting or holding fashion shows, mixed-sex dancing and pornographic channels, according to the Yemen Times.

The statement is reported to have censured families that send unaccompanied female student to study abroad and accused Yemen's press of encouraging the building of churches and and a rising tide of 'Christianisation' in the country.

It also reportedly accused the media of insulting and satirising verses from the Holy Muslim book, the Koran, the Prophet Mohammed and Islamic clerics generally.


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