Saudi scholar calls for Panda boycott over women cashiers

A Saudi scholar has broken the official rule restricting the issuing of fatwas to senior clerics and called for a boycott of a supermarket chain that has hired female cashiers, local media reports on Wednesday.

A YouTube video clip, which was taken from Al-Usra TV, shows Yousuf Al-Ahmad saying it is dangerous and hypocritical to hire females to work as cashiers, the Saudi Gazette reports.

Panda supermarket chain has employed female cashiers since earlier this month – a move which has drawn some criticism from more conservative members of the strict Muslim country.

In answer to a question from a viewer about whether the supermarket should be boycotted, Al-Ahmad said: “Yes, it (boycott) is a noble act and all Muslim Ulema in history did resort to boycott against whoever made innovations in Islam.

“The danger of hiring females in such public places is that it is part of normalizing the Western culture and that it is hypocritical and should be stopped,” he said.

Saudi’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz issued a royal decree on August 12 restricting the issuing of fatwas to the board of senior ulema following a number of more bizarre edicts, including one which said drinking breast milk would make a man and a woman related.

However, Qussay Filali, director general of the Labour Office in Jeddah, said Saudi women are able to work as cashiers in supermarkets, subject to certain controls.

Hard working

Panda hypermarkets has put 16 Saudi women to work at one store in the Red Sea city of Jeddah to test the concept in a country where Islamic conservatives have prevented women from working in gender-mixed environments.

“The women, compared to men, are really hard workers,” Panda spokesman Tarik Ismail told AFP

“If everything goes okay, then we will expand the program (in) the kingdom,” he said

Operating more than 100 retail stores across the country, the United Azizia Panda Co, owned by publicly listed foods giant Savola, already employs women sales clerks in its hypermarket in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Inside the HyperPanda market in the Roshan mall in a wealthy area of Jeddah, the female cashiers are sectioned off in check-out lanes “reserved for women and families.”

That models Saudi restaurants, which have separate sections for men and for women and families.

Unlike their male counterparts, the new cashiers are not in Panda uniforms, instead wearing abayas and veils.

Role models

The cashiers have become role models for other working women. “Naturally women work in all fields as long as they earn their living from legitimate jobs,” one of them said.

The women cashiers are also happy to hear encouraging words from customers.

“The looks of appreciation and satisfaction by the customers made us feel that we are in the right place,” one worker said. “The encouragement will make us stick to our jobs; people encourage us because we are earning our living honorably.”

The profession of a cashier was not usually the favorite for women who always prefer to be teachers, doctors, nurses and businesswomen. With the increasing rate of unemployment, women in Saudi Arabia are willing to take up any job as long as it is honest.

  • Leb-Syrian

    Can they get any more ridiculous? I dont understand how a country with such strict policies, and opression of women is so friendly with the US. Quite hypocritical if ya ask me, $ talks, $hit walks.

    • Elias

      LEB-SYRIAN I remember when i was in college here in the US i met many saudi men whom i have a great respect. We got along really well but they were also womenizers big time. However there were also one Saudi girl who used to avoid them. She would walk the other way if she saw them. But it come to me she walk and always was respectful to me. So i asked her why you don’t avoid me like them. She said because they treat me like i am nobody and you treat me with respect. These women can still do their job while following the rules of islams. I am not here to tell muslims what to do. But again these women are not your properties and just like you allow yourself freedom to do what you wish. then its not fair that you don’t allow them the same. If we don’t speak for the unjust then who will?

      • Leb-Syrian

        Its all for control and opression of their women, and behind closed doors the men are the biggest 3arsat. My cousin lived there for work, and he was making so much money, compared to what he would get paid in Syria for his job. He married his high school sweet heart, and then moved back to Syria. He said he would rather be poor than have his wife treated like a “nothing”. I dont understand that its the year 2010 and women are being treated like animals.

    • http://iranaware.blogspot.com/ Iran Aware

      I agree my friend, its one of the more common yet despicable things happening in the middle east. See when I say I want democracy there, I dont mean be a clone of us, you have to find your own version..Dont think Im preaching to you  in this post, Im generalizing ok? No ill-will to you:) I think what is best for you is the democratic voting system as it is here, but you need to separate the church and state,they cant be one and the same. Its ok to have a religious inspired government (Believing in a higher power is healthy, as is asking for guidance) But the religious ones cannot run the government, they must be separate.This list would do wonders.. 1. Laws must be the same for everyone, regardless of gender, age, tribe, or even sexual orientation. Equality is the key. 2. I love women.You should as well(this isn’t a issue in Lebanon as much as elsewhere) A woman needs to drive, and work, and have her own identity.Period.and stop this polygamist garbage..Remember the times, you want to grow as a people, you have to allow it to happen. 3. You MUST do more for the children, and I’m not talking all this kill the Jews and infidels crap. Im talking teach them value, self worth, morals, work experience, you can teach them religion, but dont force it, let it be natural. 4. This is the big one, the grand daddy. Rein in the extremists. Theres what 1.3 billion Muslims and they say that less than 10 % are the problem, so prove it. Im not talking civil war.. But you have to not ignore it and put a stop to it.
      I think when Syria and then Iran falls, Israel can squash Hamas and you get your trash out, there could be great things over there.Your fricken rich countries, Israel found gas, Im sure you have some too, there is no excuse for what your governments are doing..

  • Elias

    With all due respect to any higher muslims authority let these women be for God’s sake. Women are human beings just like you. They’re smart and intelligent probably more than you. You cannot keep them cornered in the house and in your bedrooms. Some might tell me to mind my own business. I say you’re interfering in women business who are not related to you. So you mind your own business and worry about your ethics and behavior. Enough mistreatment of women in the middle east and asia.

    Let these women go to school and drive and be what they want to be. they’re even covered from head to toe for God’s sake. let them be and let them free you spinless men.

  • PROPHET

    That’s when people confuse lords and landlords

    For anyone who wants to marry 20 women in his lifetime, He has to establish rules that give him control of society and women. He becomes paranoid of his own nightmares. He wakes up every morning and thinks of a new rule that would help him maintain his control so he can marry yet another one. Mind you not, Change the religious ruling if necessary…Or Find selfish necessities to change the rulings

    • Elias

      Well said prophet. I like what you write on this site. you have lived up to your words of wisdom. Peace!

  • PROPHET

    That’s when people confuse lords WITH landlords

  • PROPHET

    ELIAS, Thanks,

    If you say that again, I might believe you myself. Peace

  • Tony A

    prophet elias and leb-syrian well said.

    saudi is a hypocrite state.

  • fauzia

    What is the danger of ¨hiring females in such public places¨?There is no danger!!The danger is the way a woman continues to be treated by some religious zealots and religious scholars who issue ¨fatwas¨here and there!Yes ,women stick to your jobs and stick together to fight for your human rights!

  • Tony A

    ya fauzia there is a huge danger cos the men might feel threatened with the sexiness of the veil.

  • fauzia

    Then they should take the veil off !!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6CY3H24IZUHG54XGHCL7RJP7RE Ivanka Klaar

    Keep the females in the kitchen!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6CY3H24IZUHG54XGHCL7RJP7RE Ivanka Klaar

    Keep the females in the kitchen!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6CY3H24IZUHG54XGHCL7RJP7RE Ivanka Klaar

    Keep the females in the kitchen!

  • http://www.iranaware.com/ American Infidels

    I agree my friend, its one of the more common yet despicable things happening in the middle east. See when I say I want democracy there, I dont mean be a clone of us, you have to find your own version..Dont think Im preaching to you  in this post, Im generalizing ok? No ill-will to you:) I think what is best for you is the democratic voting system as it is here, but you need to separate the church and state,they cant be one and the same. Its ok to have a religious inspired government (Believing in a higher power is healthy, as is asking for guidance) But the religious ones cannot run the government, they must be separate.This list would do wonders.. 1. Laws must be the same for everyone, regardless of gender, age, tribe, or even sexual orientation. Equality is the key. 2. I love women.You should as well(this isn’t a issue in Lebanon as much as elsewhere) A woman needs to drive, and work, and have her own identity.Period.and stop this polygamist garbage..Remember the times, you want to grow as a people, you have to allow it to happen. 3. You MUST do more for the children, and I’m not talking all this kill the Jews and infidels crap. Im talking teach them value, self worth, morals, work experience, you can teach them religion, but dont force it, let it be natural. 4. This is the big one, the grand daddy. Rein in the extremists. Theres what 1.3 billion Muslims and they say that less than 10 % are the problem, so prove it. Im not talking civil war.. But you have to not ignore it and put a stop to it.
    I think when Syria and then Iran falls, Israel can squash Hamas and you get your trash out, there could be great things over there.Your fricken rich countries, Israel found gas, Im sure you have some too, there is no excuse for what your governments are doing..