fbpx
Monday, July 26, 2021
No menu items!

For the first time, Saudi women stand guard in Mecca during Haj

Inspired by her late father’s career, Mona decided to join the military and the first group of Saudi women soldiers to work in Islam’s holiest sites, where they help secure the haj annual pilgrimage.

Since April, dozens of female soldiers have become part of the security services that monitor pilgrims in Mecca and Medina, the birth places of Islam.

Dressed in a military khaki uniform, with a hip-length jacket, loose trousers and a black beret over a veil covering her hair, Mona spends her shifts roaming in the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

“I joined the military service to continue my father’s journey, may God rest his soul, standing here at the Grand mosque in Mecca, the holiest place. To serve the worshippers is a very noble and honorable task,” said Mona, who declined to give her family name.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed through social and economic reforms as part of plans to modernise the conservative Muslim kingdom and attract foreign investment under a diversification drive.

Under his reform plan, known as Vision 2030, the crown prince lifted a driving ban on women, allowed adult women to travel without permission from guardians and granted them more control over family matters. But the reform plan has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including on women’s rights activists.

Saudi Arabia has restricted the haj to its own citizens and residents for the second year in a row, barring millions of other pilgrims from abroad in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Samar, another soldier watching pilgrims near the Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure that Muslims believe was built by Abraham, said she was encouraged by her family to join the military, after psychology studies.

“This is a huge accomplishment for us and it is the biggest pride to be in the service of religion, the country and the guests of God, the most merciful,” she said.

(Production: Mohammed Benmansour, Marwa Rashad)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Landslide kills nine in northern Indian state

Nine people were killed by a landslide in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday...

Biden adamant about citizenship for Dreamers but path “remains to be seen”

U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday (July 25) said he remained adamant about the need to create a pathway for U.S. citizenship...

US men fall to France in first loss since 2004

The U.S. men's basketball team suffered a shock 83-76 defeat at the hands of France on Sunday (July 25), losing at the...

Can’t take the heat at the Olympics? Expert offers tips to stay cool

 Intense heat and humidity could force competition schedule changes at the Tokyo Olympics and the International Olympic Committee said on Sunday (July...

Austrian Kiesenhofer stuns Dutch to win road gold while Biles falters

Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer caused one of the biggest shocks in Olympic road racing history with an audacious solo victory in the women's...

More Articles Like This