Divisions among senior Saudi clerics over the legality of gender segregation could mark a new drive by reformers allied to King Abdullah to push social reforms in the puritanical Islamic state. The divisions came to the open when the kingdom’s morals police, or the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, reversed a decision to sack Ahmad al-Ghamdi, its regional head for the Mecca region.
A new film exploring issues of sexual freedom, polygamy and individuality has drawn media praise in Egypt, but its liberal message remains on the margins in the country’s conservative society. The appearance of Rasayel El Bahr, or Messages from the Sea, in Egyptian theatres is the latest indication of an easing of censorship rules, which film critics say reflects government efforts to counter Islamism.
Some things in the central Jakarta district of Matraman have barely changed since the late 1960s, when United States President Barack Obama lived and played there. Old men train their racing pigeons on the badminton court and screaming children chase each other through the winding, grimy alleyways. But if Obama does decide to drop by his old neighborhood when he visits Indonesia next week, he may notice change around the community’s mosque.
U.S. Muslim activists launched a campaign on Wednesday against a series of educational books that they say promote anti-Islamic sentiment among American school children. “The World of Islam,” a 10-book series, encourages young readers to believe Muslims are terrorists and seek to undermine U.S. society, said the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy organization.