Hug earns Pakistan woman minister clergy's wrath
Apr 9, 2007 - 12:58:38 PM

Islamabad, April 9 - A section of Pakistan's clergy is asking the government to sack Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar for hugging her French male coach after taking part in a paragliding show in Paris.

The self-styled Lal Masjid Qazi court here issued a 'fatwa', or an Islamic decree, Sunday saying Bakhtiar had committed an 'un-Islamic act', for which she must be removed from the federal cabinet, the Daily Times reported Monday.

The decree was issued at the request of an Islamabad resident who sought the court's views on the issue.

Several Pakistani newspapers recently published pictures of the woman minister hugging the Frenchman.

The Qazi court quoted various verses from the Quran and Hadith about the role of Muslim women in society and the importance of wearing the veil.

The decree said a Muslim woman should not indulge in 'objectionable activities'. 'Islam enjoins Muslim women to avoid leaving their homes unnecessarily,' it said.

In February, Zile Huma, a woman minister in Punjab province and a vocal supporter of President Pervez Musharraf's liberal policies towards women, was shot dead at a public meeting by a man.

A woman director who staged folk theatre in New Delhi some years ago was severely criticized for hugging then Indian prime minister I.K. Gujral.

The clergy has repeatedly passed decrees declaring as 'un-Islamic' Benazir Bhutto becoming the prime minister, interpreting scriptures to hold that Islam did not allow women a role outside her home.

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