Take these brave Saudi women who were attending a lecture at the Jeddah Literary Club on "Saudi Elite and Alienation Issues", heady stuff, when a bunch of bearded conservative yahoos demanded they move to another room because they didn't want to be seated in the same hall as women. The women refused when the lecturer asked them to move.
Dr Amira Kashgari said of the incident:
“What happened was not right and cannot be tolerated." “We were surprised by the group of men who walked into the main hall. I think that they came in just to provoke another of their imaginary battles. The women who were at the hall are well known literary figures and intellectuals and nobody had the right to tell them to move out."
Of the lecturer, Kashgari was quoted as saying:
“He had no right whatsoever to make the request,” Amira said. “The women had a brave and strong stance. One of them told him to go and speak with her father who was sitting at the front.”
According to Kashgari, who is a member, the activities at the club are non-discriminatory.
“The club does not support an exclusion policy and does not monopolise views. Those who do not wish to see women in the club hall should simply leave and look for alternatives elsewhere." “The active participation of women in cultural activities is moving forward smoothly and should not be stalled by anyone nor should anyone meddle in their cultural and social activities.”
Another woman in attendance, Fatima Ilyas, was not surprised at all that the conservatives reacted in that way.
“I was really pleased with the reaction of the club chairman who refused to cater to the demands that we leave. " “We are aware of course that there is tension between conservative groups and cultural institutions. I do wonder though about the reasons that make these men afraid of the presence of women. I believe that these people have a phobia of women.”
“Women were really upset and disturbed about the incident, especially that they are classy women and strongly believe in their right to be wherever they want at the club. If a woman does not feel comfortable in the main hall where men are also seated, she can go to a separate room for women. It is a matter of free choice. The club is not a bastion form [sic] men. Those who want to exclude or expel women should go to their own bastions,”And that's the bottom line. If people feel uncomfortable in the presence of the other sex, then don't go to mixed gender events.
Source: Gulf news