Saudi king allows women to join a gender-segregated Shura Council
In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, attends the Organization of Islamic Conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency)
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2012 6:40AM EST
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A Saudi official says a screen will separate genders on the country's main advisory body to King Abdullah when women join it for the first time.
Following a decision by Abdullah, women will be allowed to join the Shura Council, his main group of advisers expected to reconvene early next year. The format is seen as a compromise with hardline Islamic factions that oppose even small reforms in the ultraconservative kingdom, where sex segregation is a widespread custom.
Abdullah has pledged to allow women to vote and run in the next municipal elections in 2015. But Saudi women still face many restrictions, including a ban on driving.
The official, quoted in Al-Watan newspaper on Wednesday, says an internal communications network will allow men and women to communicate despite the barrier.