Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council goes … co-ed?
posted at 11:25 am on February 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Well, this is certainly an interesting development. One of the most repressive governments in the world, at least in terms of female suffrage, is about to allow women to take part on an influential advisory board:
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Tuesday swore in the country’s first female members of the Shura Council, an appointed body that advises on new laws, in a move that has riledconservative clerics in the Islamic monarchy.
Abdullah, who has not been seen on television since shortly after a back operation in November, was shown on state media sitting in a palace chamber to give a short speech as he swore in the new council members.
King Abdullah is seen as having pushed to cautiously advance the role of women in Saudi society. …
“Your place in the Shura Council is not as those who have been honored, but as those who have been charged with a duty, as you represent part of society,” he said, addressing the new women members.
One fifth of the new Shura Council are women. The decision to appoint women to the body, which functions in place of an elected parliament, was announced in 2011 but their names were only made public last month.
Given the iron-fisted reign of the monarchy in the nation, the appointees have no doubt been well-vetted to ensure that they go along with the policies of the nation, but it’s still an interesting advance in Saudi society.