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Indian Supreme Court to consider right of Muslim women to pray in mosques

•Footballer Mo Salah demands more respect for women in Muslim world

INDIA’S Supreme Court has  agreed to consider a petition from a Muslim couple, Yasmeen Peerzade and her husband, Zuber Peerzade, to allow women to pray in mosques.

“This is a very good development. A couple has approached the court with a petition seeking the woman’s right to enter the mosque. This is allowed as per religion and as per equality principles. I support them both,” said Zakia Soman, co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) women’s association, speaking to AsiaNews.

The India’s highest court two days ago issued notices to the central government, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Central Wakf Board (which manage charitable assets), on a public interest plea that said Muslim women should have unhindered access to all mosques across the country.

A few months ago, the court ruled in favour of women entering Hindu temples.

The Muslim couple appealed to the Supreme Court to abolish the centuries-old practice that prevents Muslim women from entering mosques.

The petition says that the Qurʾan “does not differentiate between man and woman. It speaks only about the faithful. But Islam has become a religion in which women are being oppressed.”

The Muslim Holy Book, in fact, says nothing about banning women or separate spaces in mosques. Yet, over the centuries, a practice developed allowing women to access a reserved area from a secondary entrance, at least in some places of prayer, while most women pray at home.

At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations but are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction.

“I question who gave the men the right to decide this. I believe all places of worship should be open to women without discrimination of any kind,” said Zakia Soman.

For the activist, it is good that the call for women’s equality should come “from ordinary citizens and from within the community. The conservative patriarchal religious leaders need to open their eyes and see the need for change. They must become accountable to gender justice principles enshrined in the Constitution. They cannot continue to exclude women from any public place.”

In a related development, Egyptian football star, Mohamed “Mo” Salah, has called for change in the way women are treated in the Muslim world.

The Liverpool forward was speaking to TIME magazine after being named on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In an interview with TIME magazine published Wednesday, the 26-year-old said that while his attitudes towards gender equality had evolved over the years, he wanted to see more change.

“I think we need to change the way we treat women in our culture. It’s not optional,” Salah was quoted as saying.

He said the treatment of women “in my culture and in the Middle East” had changed his opinions on gender issues.

“I support the woman more than I did before, because I feel like she deserves more than what they give her now, at the moment,” Salah told the magazine.

He told TIME he had learned to cope with the “little bit of pressure” that comes with his elevated profile, while expressing pride at being regarded as a role model.

“To be the first Egyptian in (this) situation and no one has done this before. It’s something different,” he said, insisting that superstardom had not changed his lifestyle.

“I just live my life normal. Most of the time, I stay at home, I don’t like to go out,” he said.

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