Women in Russia’s volatile Muslim Chechnya region say that police have targeted them with paintball pellets for not wearing headscarves, outraging rights activists. The attacks highlight tension over efforts by Chechnya’s firebrand Moscow-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, to enforce Muslim-inspired rules that in some cases violate Russia’s constitution.
Full Muslim face veils could become the next divisive religious issue to take centre stage in Switzerland, where voters last November approved a measure banning the construction of new minarets. The Swiss federal government said in February it saw no need for a “burqa ban.” Politicians at the national level say there’s no “burqa problem” in Switzerland. But few thought there was a “minaret problem” either, until the question was put to a national referendum and the minaret ban campaigners won.
France attempted the arguably impossible on Wednesday by presenting a bill to ban Muslim face veils and asking Muslims not to feel it was singling them out in the process.
The Church of England has moved a step closer to the consecration of women bishops, setting up a possible showdown with traditionalists who back all-male clergy in the Anglican communion. Draft legislation introduced at the weekend said women should be consecrated as bishops on the same basis as men, disappointing the Anglo-Catholic and evangelical wings of the Church which had wanted a “two-tier” system.
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.