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Women removed from chat group ‘to avoid misconduct’

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Manama: Several Saudi poets were removed from a WhatsApp chat group because they were women, the group administrator said.

“Their presence in the group was a form of mixing between the genders and could be used to start illicit relationships, and I do not want to have any role in that,” the administrator said in a message he sent to the group members, all poets from the Arabian Gulf with an interest in popular poetry and culture.

The administrator said that he based his decision on a fatwa, a religious edict, he read on a website, local daily Makkah reported on Tuesday.

He said that he wanted to apologise to the women for the decision to remove them from the group, but he insisted that it was meant to avoid possible problems and irreligious behaviour.

The group reportedly included more than 40 poets.

However, several members condemned the decision to remove the women, saying that the administrator acted without consulting with them, and decided to leave the group, the daily added.

Most commenters criticised the administrator for his “negative attitude” and insisted that the cultural and literary group should be encouraged to engage in creative activities.

“I pity the administrator because he seems to be truly mixed up,” a commenter writing under the moniker Eighteen, said. “The strict interpretation of religion bans having a woman and man who are unrelated alone without a blood relative, not the public mixing of genders.”

Those who supported the removal decision argued the chat group, even though it comprised poets, could be misused as a platform for non-literary purposes.

“There is a lot going on when you start a chat group,” iPhone, another blogger, said. “I am a woman and I know many women who meet men in a group and then start a private chat and keep on chatting all evening. Many of the users are married, but the women enjoy projecting a soft, romanticised image of themselves on social networks. This administrator simply did not want to be associated in any way with moral corruption,” she said.


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