Victoria’s Secret may soon have trouble finding people to sell its stock in Saudi Arabia.
A group of hardline Islamic clerics is threatening the labor minister with “deadly prayers” if he goes ahead with a plan to create more jobs for women, saying they'll pray he gets cancer to which his predecessor succumbed two years ago. In particular, they don’t like his ideas about women selling undergarments to other women.
Al Arabiya reports:
During a meeting at the labor ministry on Tuesday, about 200 religious figures accused Minister Adel Fakeih of executing a “Westernization” plan and asked him to ban women from working in lingerie shops within a month or he will face their dangerous prayers.
Only problem is, King Abdullah last year issued a royal decree prohibiting men from staffing lingerie shops, which leaves the question: Who will sell those sexy undergarments?
Al Arabiya offers more detail on the heated meeting:
One religious man told the minister, “I supplicated against a senior official at the ministry and he received the (cancer) disease and he died; this was because he began implementing the feminization decision,” according to al-Eqtisadiah newspaper. The man reportedly referred to previous Labor Minister [Ghazi al] Gosaibi.
Another religious figure told the minister that the government’s job is to employ women and not to decide where they should be employed.
Addressing the minister, another man said, “I am warning you, do not ignite sedition; we only came here to provide advice; your ministry has thrown our daughters in places that don’t suit their values.”
After a wave of attacks the minister finally snatched an opportunity to respond to the bearded men in front of him. He defended the decision to employ women, saying that women occupied jobs during the era of the Prophet Muhammad, adding that it made more sense if women rather than men are in charge of selling women’s lingerie.
The labor minister dug in his heels, telling the clerics if they have a problem with his decision they should take the government to court.
Three years ago, senior Saudi religious figures issued a fatwa barring women from working in the field.
Daniel Greenfield of Front Page Magazine called this the “real War on Women,” offering this quip: “But as Obama says, ‘The future will not belong to those who slander the lingerie of Islam.’”
Earlier this month, more than 100 clerics swarmed into the Labor Ministry objecting to plans to create more jobs for women. Then they complained about rulings which would allow the mixing of genders in the workplace. Of the 1.5 million Saudis looking for work, a whopping 80 percent are women.
But those statistics don’t move hardline religious leaders who warn liberalizing labor laws will lead to “social disintegration” and the “Westernization” of Saudi Arabia.
The religious conservatives aren’t holding back their rhetoric to fight what they consider to be the threat of working women. A Saudi cleric last month called waitresses at the local Hardee’s outlets “prostitutes.” The American chain was also subject to a boycott by hardline Islamists opposing its employment of women.
Saudi Sheikh Ali Al Mutairi posted on Twitter: “At the beginning of her shift she’s a waitress. When her shift ends she becomes a prostitute. The more she’s around men the easier it becomes to get closer to her.”