Battle Royale - Saudi clerics mix it up....
I wonder who is going to win this battle...
CONSERVATIVE Muslim Saudi Arabia's battle over men and women freely mixing mounted on Tuesday as a powerful Islamic judge rebuked a hardline cleric over his attacks on anti-segregationist reformers.
In a column published on a website for judges, Riyadh criminal court judge Sheikh Issa al-Ghaith lashed out at cleric Abdul Rahman al-Barrak for his sweeping condemnation of anyone advocating lifting the country's draconian Islamic laws against fraternisation between unrelated men and women.
'What does it mean to issue fatwas (Islamic edicts) that are difficult to implement and statements which make people go away?' Sheikh Ghaith said. 'Anyone who disagrees is accused of hypocrisy and branded a hypocrite,' he said of conservatives' views.
While Sheikh Ghaith did not mention him by name, it was clear he was speaking about Mr Barrak, one of the country's leading conservative scholars, who in February labelled opponents of gender segregation as infidels who should be killed.
On Monday, Sheikh Ghaith expressed similar sentiments in a direct response to a letter Mr Barrak wrote last week that mixing constituted rebelling against God. The letter was addressed to Sheikh Ghaith, Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa and the head of the Mecca religious police, Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi, whose open pro-mixing stance got him fired and then mysteriously reinstated in late April.
Mr Barrak called for the three to 'Fear God! Do not be keys to evil.' He said they should resist the 'so-called liberation of women,' which he likened to colonialism. In other countries, he said, 'This rebelling against God's rules leads to widespread mixing between men and women, the worst of which is seen in education and places of work. It is also manifested in the opening of cinemas, and dancing and singing halls.'