Kuwait’s ministry of interior banned the planned women-only yoga retreat in the desert because the organisers had failed to obtain the necessary permits, according to local media.
Dozens of women protesting the administration’s intervention in Kuwait’s Erada Square on Monday held placards reading “No future for a nation without equality”, “No to the government and parliament’s trading in women’s issues” and "Kuwait is a civil state and the rule is constitutional, and no to the rule of fatwas”.
The protesting women said they rejected the “guardianship of women”, reported Abu Dhabi-based English newspaper The National.
Event organiser and yoga instructor Eman Al Husseinan said she was unable to hold the yoga retreat for women because she did not get official permission from the Kuwaiti government.
Conservative lawmaker Hamdan Al-Azmi last week branded the event as “dangerous” and urged the interior ministry to stop it.
“It is dangerous, and we urge the Minister of Interior to move quickly to stop these practices that are alien to our conservative society, and to hold those who granted the licences accountable immediately,” he reportedly said.
Female activists in the country panned the Kuwaiti administration for its decision, and criticised Mr Al-Azmi.
“Members of parliament are supposed to be the ones who defend the rights of all people, regardless of their gender,” said women’s rights activist Ibtihal Al Ahmad.
“A woman’s right is not given by someone’s mood, not by personal preferences but by the constitution itself. Any changes or amendments to an article in the constitution should be focused on granting more rights, not taking them away,” the activist was quoted as saying by The National.
Conservative lawmakers in Kuwait are expected to have a tough time in the upcoming elections as the administration has already stirred campaigns against women’s rights, said lawyer Areej Hamadah, who was present at the protest.
“Today I was at the women’s gathering from the third district and who voted for the [male MPs], but what I heard today and from very influential women figures, I think it is difficult for them to prepare for the upcoming elections after they failed the women who are shocked by their positions,” the lawyer added.
The move comes a little more than a month the door was opened for Kuwait’s women to join the army, but only on condition that they wore the hijab.
Kuwait’s deputy prime minister and defence minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al Ali had issued the decision last week, sparking a row in the country as many criticised the move as regressive.
Another decision by the federal administration required women to take permission from their guardian or husband before joining the army, an order many sought to be repealed before the Constitutional Court called it flawed.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies