Do Saudi Arabia’s two Olympic female athletes — the kingdom’s first ever — represent changing times in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, or will the conservative religious backlash win out?
For years, human rights organizations hoping to use the Olympics as leverage to challenge Saudi Arabia’s restrictive gender policies have looked to the case of apartheid South Africa. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), after all, expelled South Africa in 1970 for its policy of racial discrimination — a ban that stayed in place for 21 years, until the fall of apartheid in 1991. If the IOC took action against South Africa to help end race-based apartheid there, shouldn’t it bar Saudi Arabia from the 2012 London Olympics in protest of gender-based apartheid in the kingdom? Read on here.
NOTE: Writing this article, I researched some of the books and fatwas against women sports and I refer to one of these books in the article. In that same book, I came across something interesting that wasn’t included in the article. So I thought I would share it with you here:
AlShathri (the author) argues that physical education will require that the girls change in front of each other and that this “will open the evil door of lesbianism, admiration and their hearts getting attached to each other and as our sheikh Abdulrahmin Al Barrack, bless him, has stated, “This is currently common among our students before the incorporation of physical education, so how will it be after?!””