Women in Municipal Councils

While the municipal elections have been indefinitely postponed, much to the dismay of many reform-minded Saudis, al-Hayat daily published a story today about an interesting development. According to the paper, the municipal councils have been secretly discussing a request by the ministry seeking the councils’ opinion on opening the doors to women to become members of the councils.

Unsurprisingly, councilmen are divided on the matter. While some of them welcome the inclusion of women in their chambers, other councilmen have their reservations. Abdulmuhsen Al al-Shiekh who heads Makka’s municipal council said he is against having women in the council, whether they were elected or appointed. He, however, is not against having women as voters.

This position might seem odd, but it’s actually similar to the position taken by some Islamists in Kuwait when the government there decided to give women their political rights and allow them to vote and run in the parliamentary elections.