In­dian women en­ter land­mark mosque with song and tears

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Hun­dreds of women poured into the in­ner sanc­tum of the iconic Haji Ali Dar­gah mosque in Mum­bai on Tues­day af­ter a Supreme Court or­der granted them equal ac­cess, spark­ing hope for other cases of dis­crim­i­na­tion against women. The lengthy le­gal bat­tle for women to en­ter the heart of Haji Ali Dar­gah is one of many cases for equal ac­cess in places of wor­ship in In­dia. Mem­bers of the Haji Ali Dar­gah Trust, which had ar­gued it would be a “griev­ous sin” to al­low women near the tomb of the 15th cen­tury Sufi saint housed within the mosque, wel­comed women from across In­dia on Tues­day with tea.

“It was a hugely emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence. It has been a tough bat­tle, with many hard­ships, but we are glad we pre­vailed,” said Zakia So­man, co-founder of Bharatiya Mus­lim Mahila An­dolan (BMMA), or In­dian Mus­lim Women’s Move­ment, a rights group that had filed a pe­ti­tion in the Mum­bai High Court for equal ac­cess. “This is a be­gin­ning. It gives me greater con­fi­dence about other mat­ters of gen­der jus­tice we are fight­ing for, such as triple talaq,” whereby a Mus­lim man can di­vorce his wife by say­ing “talaq” - or “I di­vorce you” - three times.

The Haji Ali Dar­gah mosque, built on an islet about 500 me­ters from the coast, can only be reached at low tide and draws thou­sands of wor­ship­pers each day. On Tues­day, women en­tered the shrine with their heads cov­ered, amid song and prayer, So­man said. Women had been al­lowed in Haji Ali Dar­gah’s in­ner sanc­tum un­til 2011, when their en­try was sud­denly banned. BMMA filed a pe­ti­tion in 2014 against the ban, and the Mum­bai court in Au­gust or­dered the mosque’s trust to lift it. The trust chal­lenged the or­der in the Supreme Court, which last month up­held the lower court’s or­der. —Reuters

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