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Muslim group backs Hindu women over Shani temple row


New Delhi: A Muslim women’s group on Tuesday came out in support of women’s entry into the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, charging “male-dominated bodies” which run shrines with bias.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan said it supports demands by Hindu women to be allowed to enter the chabutra or sanctum sanctorum at the well known temple in Ahmednagar.

“We salute the women activists for their democratic protest and assertion of their right to worship in the face of all odds placed by the patriarchal male temple administration,” it said in a statement.

“We condemn the discriminative arrangement at the temple and urge the temple trustees to correct their stand in line with the principles of gender justice enshrined in the constitution.”

Andolan co-founders Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safia Niaz said they were shocked at the imposition of Section 144 by the district administration to bar the women from proceeding peacefully to the temple.

Condemning the police action, the group urged the Maharashtra government to “immediately take steps to correct this continued denial of justice to women devotees at the temple”.

The group said religious trusts presiding over temples, dargahs and churches must come clean and make amends to the patriarchal practices that have kept women out of places of worship.

“God or deities or pirs are not private properties of any individuals or trusts.

“Religions of the world – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism – do not discriminate between the genders.

“The temple and dargah trusts do not have the authority either from religious or legal sources to discriminate against anyone.

“We call upon the male-dominated trusts and bodies to correct their stance urgently, failing which more and more women are bound to protest and demand their right to worship,” the group said.

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