Attack on Al-Ahsa mosque leaves several dead

Updated 01 February 2016

Attack on Al-Ahsa mosque leaves several dead

JEDDAH: An attack on a mosque in Al-Ahsa on Friday has left four worshipers dead and 18 others injured and a terrorist in police custody, the Interior Ministry said.
The ministry confirmed that two men carried out the attack on Al-Ridha Mosque in Mahasin district.
Security men spotted the attackers as they drove up to the mosque during the Friday congregational prayer. In the process of stopping the attackers from entering the mosque, one detonated his suicide belt and another was captured.
In the attack’s chaotic aftermath, police fired weapons into the air to drive away an angry mob that surrounded a police car holding the suspected attacker, according to a video shot from the scene.
A witness said security forces and ambulances quickly surrounded the mosque.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but Daesh has previously carried out similar attacks in the Kingdom. Police have launched an investigation.
The attack was roundly condemned with senior scholars praising the diligent work of the security officials in helping to avert a bigger disaster. In a statement, the scholars said the attacks showed the keenness of citizens in “preserving consensus and unity under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.”
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that such acts “will never succeed in undermining the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s security or igniting sedition or dispute among the Saudi people.”
Jordan’s government spokesman Mohammed Al-Momani said the attack on worshippers “reiterates once again that terrorism is blind and it that no one is excluded from its evils.”
Al-Ahsa is in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, which last year saw two major mosque attacks.
Last May, a suicide bomber blew himself up during Friday prayers at a mosque in the village of Al-Qadeeh in eastern Saudi Arabia, killing 21 and wounding 100 others.
Days later, Khaled Al-Wahbi Al-Shemari, who was dressed as a woman, detonated the explosive belt he was wearing when challenged by security volunteers at the entrance of Al-Anoud Mosque in Dammam. The blast caused panic and chaos as worshippers rushed to get out of the building and several cars were set alight in the parking lot by the force of the explosion. Daesh claimed responsibility for both attacks.
The Interior Ministry said soon after they had detained 45 suspects in connection with the mosque attacks.


Biggest swimming pool in Russia’s Muslim south bans women, causing outcry

Updated 22 January 2020

Biggest swimming pool in Russia’s Muslim south bans women, causing outcry

MOSCOW: The biggest swimming pool in Russia’s Muslim-majority North Caucasus region has banned women, prompting anger from rights activists and others who have accused the sports complex of discrimination.
The Anzhi Arena spa-complex near Makhachkala, the capital of the internal Russian republic of Dagestan, announced its policy change on the Instagram social media platform on Monday.
“From Jan. 20 onwards attendance of the pool is open only to men,” it said.
The decision has sparked heated debate among residents of the mountainous region, where traditional social values and conservative interpretations of Islam often put it at odds with large parts of European Russia where more liberal values prevail.
The swimming pool said its decision to deny entry to women, who were previously only admitted on Fridays for women-only sessions, was financially motivated.
“Unfortunately, there were hardly any visitors during women’s days,” the RIA news agency cited the spa complex as saying on its Instagram page, which has now been set to private.
“Specifically because of this, after a thorough analysis and evaluation, the difficult decision was made that keeping days for women open in our pool was not viable.”
It is common in the North Caucasus region to find sports facilities offering men and women access on separate days of the week. But a complete ban on women using the pool goes against the Russian constitution, activists said.
Fatima Abdulkhalimova, 31, said she could no longer use the pool despite working there as an instructor.
“I do demonstrations, show people the correct technique, and now I’m not allowed to enter the water,” Abdulkhalimova, a former professional swimmer, said.
“I think it’s to do with religion, I believe it is because a lot of religious guys come here,” she said.
Access to the pool had initially been permitted for both men and women, she said, before being restricted to Fridays only for women.
If having women-only days was not financially viable, then why not simply return to the earlier, mixed-gender system, Abdulkhalimova questioned.
Three women from Dagestan have now filed a complaint to the regional Prosecutor’s Office accusing the sports complex of unconstitutional gender-based discrimination, a copy of the document, shared by Olga Gnezdilova, a lawyer with the Rights Initiative Project, showed.
One of the complainants is Svetlana Anokhina, editor of a local online media platform focused on women’s rights. She said the practice of separating public spaces by gender was on the rise.
“I have a daughter here and she has three daughters too. I’m angry because... I’m afraid for them. I don’t want them to live in a special ghetto for women,” Anokhina, who is based in Makhachkala, said.
One woman, who said she frequently used the pool, said she had been refused a membership pass last month.
Commenting on a post on Instagram she wrote that the pool’s administrators had told her she couldn’t buy a pass because there was not enough locker room space for men.