Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saudi Women in the Olympics

Some activists have called for Saudi Arabia to be banned from the Olympics for practicing "gender apartheid," much like South Africa became an international pariah for racial apartheid. Crossroads Arabia notes that the pressure has yielded a concession:
"Saudi Arabian women are barred from driving and face penalties for attempting to do so, including public lashings. This hasn’t stopped the country from reportedly giving the green light to women to participate in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.

However, the country only plans to send a female equestrian team to the games. The move is largely due to warnings from the International Olympic Committee’s Women and Sports Commission, which said the conservative Gulf kingdom could be barred from the Olympics altogether if women are not allowed to participate...

"This is not new for the conservative Gulf region. Qatar has only recently agreed to allow women to join its 2012 Olympic team, a likely move ahead of the small country receiving the World Cup bid for 2022."

This seems like a small move, but the symbolism should not be underestimated.

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