A move by some restaurants in Saudi Arabia to ban women from their premises has drawn praise and criticism on social networks.
As “Women are not allowed” signs have been spotted in front of some restaurants in the kingdom, people took to the social networks to express their displeasure or their satisfaction with the merit and implication of the unusual situation.
National Society for Human Rights Secretary General Khalid Al Fakhri called for their immediate removal, saying that the restaurant owners acted on their own discretion and insisting that they broke the law, a local daily reported.
One restaurant owner said he felt the need to ban women from the premises as a strict policy in order to avoid possible problems following a series of harassment cases.
Saudis in posts on social networks welcomed the move, explaining that the presence of women in restaurants “caused several social issues.”
Writing under the moniker of “Capable Politician”, a blogger said that some women behaved in a shocking way.
“She would come in alone and focuses on her mobile from which emanates loud music,” he wrote. “She then takes out a cigarette and upsets other guests who may call in the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. This could cause problem for the restaurant. So the best thing is to keep women away from restaurants unless they have a male custodian. That way the restaurant is not shut down because of the misbehaviour of an adolescent or mentally unstable woman,” he said, local news site reported.
Another blogger, Talal, said that the restaurant managers were right to protect themselves from possible social issues.
“My brother has a restaurant and he says that even though there is a section for families, there are often instances of embarrassment. Several women would come in and would speak loudly without any respect for public behaviour. He says that it is difficult for him to get them to lower their voices,” he said.
However, several Saudis blasted the decision, saying that it amounted to blatant discrimination against women.
“This is utterly ridiculous. This means that a hungry woman who wants to eat something needs a male custodian to enter a restaurant,” Harraq said. “This is so shameful. Such attitudes are not accepted from any Muslim regarding anyone, let alone a hungry woman who wants to eat something and who will sit in the family section of the restaurant. She is a human being and she has feelings and emotions.”
Rayeq drew parallels in history.
“Such signs remind me of the anti-Black signs in the US during the mean racism years,” he posted.
Some bloggers sought to highlight the reasoning behind the decision.
“Restaurant managers are usually foreigners who do not know the right way to conduct themselves and their business when there are women without male custodians around. They would rather ban them than allow them in and face serious issues,” one blogger writing under the moniker of “Not A Simple Decision” said.