Segregation at Shoura: Moral or Political?

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Khaled al-Dekhayel is confused over the gender segregation provisions in the royal decrees appointing women in the Shoura Council:

if we entrust council members, both women and men, to take responsibility of contributing to the legislative process with all its importance and seriousness, as well as give opinions about it, why do not we trust their personal behavior? How they can be trusted on questions and issues related to public affairs and of public interest, but at the same time cannot be trusted on issues related to their individual beliefs and obligations? Those who cannot be trusted for their convictions and personal obligations cannot be trusted for the issues of the size and seriousness of the nation’s legislation!

All the new members, men and women, hold high professional postgraduate degrees and have a great deal of experience. I do not think any of them are under 40 years of age, which means that they have reached a stage where they have a sense of responsibility by virtue of their age, knowledge and experience. If we do not believe in the sense of an individual’s responsibility about themselves, their manners, and their commitment to the laws and customs after all those years of age, and after all that time of practical and scientific experience, when will we believe them?

Al-Dekhayel is obviously asking rhetorical questions here, because there is no way he believes that the segregation at Shoura is about morals and not a political choice. Earlier in the article he says it is “likely that the king was forced” to include these provisions out of consideration for the sensitivities of some people in society, but I would say it is more likely that he made this choice to appease the conservatives. That, of course, was not enough. Few days later the clerics were protesting outside the royal court.

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