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Saudi cleric: women need not wear abaya robe in public

Saudi cleric: women need not wear abaya robe in public

Saudi Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq told on Friday that while Saudi women should dress modestly, that doesn’t mean they should just wear the abaya robe in public. Since Friday, women in the Kingdom can say abaya good-bye, Newsweek reports.

Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq in his Friday’s interview for Reuters said that more than 90 percent of pious Muslim women in the Muslim world do not wear abayas. It is pretty logically for Saudi ruler to not force people to wear abayas in Saudi Arabia as well. A member of the council of senior scholars – the kingdom’s highest religious body, the abaya-free rule is the latest sign of a far-reaching liberalisation drive launched by Crown Prince.

Mohammed bin Salman has recently introduced a series of reforms in favour of women as the kingdom prepares for a post-oil era. Saudi Arabia last month allowed women to enter a football stadium for the first time to watch a match. The move came four months after the kingdom announced an end to a long-standing ban on women driving – a major change to the country’s ultra-conservative social order. The young generation of Saudis adores their  Crown Prince who is the most progressive ruler ever.

Saudi Arabia: women still face a number of restrictions

The government has not said whether it will change the law, but this is the first such comment from a senior religious figure. Under Saudi Arabia’s existing guardianship system, a male family member – normally the father, husband or brother – must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and a host of other activities.

Sheikh Mutlaq’s comment sparked a host of reactions on social media, including from other clerics who backed his statement.

As Saudi Twitter user commented:

“Chastity and morality should not be tied to a piece of cloth.”

Bin Salman has expressed interest in reforming all of the Muslim cultures and wants all religions to be accepted in a country that is extremely conservative.

“We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world. We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today,”

Salman said last year.