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Reforms befall Saudi Arabia while activists struggle in detention

Last updated on December 12th, 2019

In a historic move, Saudi Arabia has decided to end gender segregation in restaurants, which was earlier an integral part of the social gatherings.

Till date, all restaurants or public eating joints in the Kingdom were required to have one entrance and seating space reserved for families and women, and another only for men. Since decades, in the conservative country, unrelated men and women were prohibited from gathering in public places.

The announcement was made by the Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs on Twitter, which was welcomed by the youth in great numbers.

Since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MbS, enthroned, the Kingdom has witnessed a number of reforms, including removal of bans on women driving and public recreation. However, these reforms have come at a cost with human rights activists being detained for the longest time.

It is yet not clear that whether segregated seating sections in restaurants would completely be removed. According to the reports, the new rule is not mandatory to comply with, therefore restaurants can still choose to maintain segregation as per the owner’s will.

Meanwhile, like most of other Gulf countries, gender segregation in other public establishments, like schools and hospitals, will remain as per the old law of segregation.

Repercussion for the reform by conservative Wahhabies could not overpower the regime’s decision to end gender segregation, and a smooth implementation is expected to come into effect.

As a matter of fact, if the Saudi regime believes that such reform must take place in the country, then why are the activists, fighting for these reforms, put behind the bars? Their detention is not justified as campaigning for human rights is not a crime. The dual-faced regime has maintained silence on the detention of activists and on the sidelines its introducing reforms to woo the world.

The reputation of Mohammed bin Salman has deteriorated in the West after the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Releasing the jailed activists or even putting them on a fair trail could help the Crown Prince repair his image.

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