RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh warned against the mixing of men and women, saying it is a threat to society and female chastity.
Delivering his traditional Friday sermon, Al-Sheikh said authorities must adhere to Islamic Shariah by ensuring both genders do not mix together.
His comments come just weeks ahead of allowing women to be members of the 150-member Shura Council, the country’s top advisory body.
While Al-Sheikh has spoken out in support of granting women the right to vote in 2015 alongside men in the nation’s only open elections, he has criticised the decision to allow women to work in apparel stores, saying that it puts them in contact with men unrelated to them, The Associated Press reported.
“It is necessary for women to be separated from men as much as possible, because this great religion protects the chastity of women against evil and corruption,” Al-Sheikh told worshippers at the Imam Turki mosque in Riyadh.
While his Friday sermon focused mainly on corruption in the kingdom, the grand mufti stressed that it is forbidden in Islam for a woman to stand before a man unveiled, warning that to do so will destroy the morals and values of society. The veil in Saudi Arabia refers to the full face covering worn by most women in the ultraconservative kingdom.