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Saudi women stage rare university demo: reports

Khadija Revenge
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08/04/2009 09:08 AM
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Saudi women stage rare university demo: reports
RIYADH — Scuffles broke out on Sunday when hundreds of Saudi women students held a rare protest at a university over alleged corrupt admission policies, local newspapers reported.

The protest erupted after students were turned away on admissions day at Taif University, south of the holy city of Mecca, Okaz and its sister paper the Saudi Gazette said on Monday.

Female security guards clashed with the students and female guardians as they staged a sit-in and blocked streets and the entrance to the university, they said on their websites.

Witnesses quoted by the Saudi Gazette said that Red Crescent relief teams treated the female guardian of one of the girls "who was beaten up by the security women."

Al-Medina newspaper said the women and their guardians attempted to storm the university's gate and were pushed back by security guards, resulting in some injuries.

The women accused the university of admitting less qualified students and closing admissions before the official registration date.

But the dean of admissions and registration, Hisham al-Zeer denied there was any corruption in the admissions process, the Gazette said.

Photographs of the protest showed hundreds of women covered in black abayas, or head-to toe robes, standing and sitting by a university entrance and in the street.

Saudi Arabia's interior ministry strictly enforces a ban on demonstrations, and mass protests by women in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom are virtually unheard of.