Indian court allows women to enter key Muslim shrine

An Indian court on Friday overturned a ban on women entering the inner sanctum of Mumbai's Haji Ali mosque, marking another victory for women fighting gender discrimination at places of worship in India.

The high court in Mumbai ruled that the ban was discriminatory and in violation of the fundamental rights provided under the Indian constitution, Raju Moray, lawyer for the petitioner, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (Indian Muslim Women's Movement), said.

The ban was imposed in 2012 when the Haji Ali trust said it would be a "grevious sin" for women to be allowed near the tomb of a Sufi saint, situated in the inner chamber of the mosque.

Moray said the order was suspended for the next six weeks since the trust's lawyers were challenging the ruling in the Supreme Court.

"It is a landmark decision and a big victory for women," said Bibi Khatoon from the women rights group which fought the ban. "Are not Sufi saints born to women? So why are women being prevented from entering the shrine?" she asked.

Friday's court ruling boosts a nationwide campaign by women groups demanding entry to places of worship in India. Earlier this year, Hindu women won the right of access to the Shani Shignapur temple in the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is capital.

A petition involving the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in south India, that denies entry to women of menstruating age, is also being heard by the Supreme Court.

Last update: Fri, 26/08/2016 - 14:31
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