Saudi Arabia's Clerics Set Boundaries on Reforms

(Reuters) Samia Nakhoul - When Saudi Arabia's top religious authority ruled this month that Islam forbids men and women to mix in public, he reset the boundaries for reformists pushing for women's rights in the ultra-conservative kingdom. No one, not even the royal family, which derives legitimacy from the clerical establishment, could challenge his verdict. Analysts say the House of Saud has for years turned a blind eye to Wahhabi teachings which are now blamed for breeding militancy, but cannot repudiate them without harming its own legitimacy. No one expects sudden change in a country where religious diktat intervenes in every detail of life. But some officials now acknowledge that religious dogma, which instills bigotry and hatred of the West, has helped create a militancy which led to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.

2004-01-27 00:00:00

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