Israel: Religious paper bans women from event

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The Independent Online

Women hoping to attend a management conference in Jerusalem last week were shocked to discover that the event was closed to females.

The ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper Hamodia, which was running the event, had instructed security to prevent all women, including female reporters, from entering the venue. Speakers included Israel's finance minister and the head of one of the country's biggest banks.

"It was frightening to discover that I am not allowed to enter a public place just because I am a woman," a woman, identified only as S, told Israel's Ynetnews site. "This is a dangerous phenomenon for the Israeli society, and I hope people wake up before it's too late."

The row underscores the tensions between Israel's religious and secular communities, which have clashed over issues such as the closure of streets to traffic in Jerusalem's ultraorthodox neighbourhoods on the Sabbath, and gender-segregated bus lines. The ultra-orthodox Jews tend to live in closed communities and refrain from freely mixing with the opposite sex.