CAIRO (AFP) – Islam bars women from becoming head of state, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric or mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, ruled in an official fatwa or religious edict published.
“Under Islamic sharia (religious law), a woman cannot be head of state because it is one of the duties of the position to lead Muslims in prayer and that role can only be carried out by men,” said the fatwa carried by leading state daily Al-Ahram.
“If by political rights, we mean the right to vote, stand as candidate or assume public office, then the sharia has no objection to women enjoying them, but a woman cannot serve as head of state.
“Women can stand as candidates for parliament or the consultative council, in so far as they can reconcile their duties with the rights that their husbands and children have over them.”
But the mufti said that women’s conduct of their political rights must not infringe “the ethical laws of Islam” and that they should not therefore “take off the headscarf, deck themselves in fine clothes or be alone with men who are not their husbands or close relatives.”
Egypt was the first Arab country to give women the franchise in 1956.
But in a country where the Muslim Brotherhood is the main opposition group, social pressures still limit women’s political role.