Women’s Rights In Islam Alert: “Exercise a Challenge for Saudi Women,” from AP, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia “” Under their modest flowing robes, two-thirds of Saudi women are too fat. They can try dieting, but you won’t find many in aerobics classes or power-walking along this city’s walking trails. And very few of their daughters attend schools that have physical education classes.
There are no laws against women exercising outside their homes, but in this conservative society many are influenced by scholars and clerics who argue against it.
In Riyadh, hotel gyms and pools are off limits to women. Along the city’s walking trails, where the women walk covered in the mandatory black cloaks, they are sometimes harassed by the muttawa.
Rana al-Abdullah said one such official ordered her to go back to her car when she was out walking one day and wouldn’t leave her alone until she did. She now walks in malls.
Many Saudis say they are baffled by the religious arguments.
At a clinic that treats obesity-related diseases, a booklet left by a writer named Muhammad al-Habdan, warned that if girls’ schools began P.E., Saudi girls would have to change into workout gear _ and good girls should not disrobe outside their homes. Changing in a locker room might cause them to lose the shyness that is the hallmark of good morals, the booklet warned.
It went on to say that the girls might become attracted to each other after seeing their classmates in tight leotards and tops.