Jeddah Literary Club Rejects Gender Segregation

The head of the Jeddah Literary Club has ruled out banning women from sitting in the same hall as men during the club’s activities as requested by some people.

“People have the right to voice their views and the club also has the right to make the decision it sees fit,” Abdullah Al Sulami said. “Whoever wants to attend our activities is most welcome to do so, but those who feel that they are not in line with their convictions may leave. The club is for all and we welcome all people,” he said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Madina on Wednesday.

Al Sulami made the comments after a group of people who wanted to attend the “Saudi Elite and Alienation Issues” lecture protested against the presence of women in the same room as men and threatened to leave if they were not told to move to another room.

Reasoning with the protesters, Abdullah Jadaa, the club spokesperson, said that women had often opted to sit in the same hall as men even though the club provided a separate area for them.

“We have since the launch of the club taken into account privacy matters of those who attended our activities,” he said. “However, women have developed the habit of sitting in the same hall as men and now refuse to move out.”
According to the daily, most of the protesters eventually changed their mind and attended the lecture.

A more accurate translation of the lecture’s title would be “Saudi Elite and Westernization Issues.” The religious conservatives who objected to the presence of women in the hall decided to leave after the head of JLC said women have the right to be there. Good for the women for standing their ground, and kudos to JLC for not bowing down to a bunch religious bullies.