Egyptian cleric OKs public mingling

April 29, 2010 at 3:37 PM

CAIRO, April 29 (UPI) -- Egypt's top Sunni cleric says it's OK for men and women to mingle in public places as long as they exhibit modesty.

"There is no problem in mingling if a woman abides by the rules of Islam," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said. "A woman is advised to wear clothes that are neither tight nor revealing."

Men also must be on their best behavior, he said, "since Islam demands that both men and women stay away from anything that might instigate them into falling prey to sinful behaviors."

Al-Arabiya reported Thursday Gomaa's siding with Muslim moderates comes as religious scholars in Saudi Arabia debate whether sex segregation is permissible in Islam.

The Arab-language TV news network said his views appear to align with those of Sheik Ahmed al-Ghamdi, head of Mecca's branch of the religious police body known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who recently sanctioned public interaction between men and woman. Such conduct is staunchly opposed by hard-line Muslim scholars who see it as leading to sin or immorality.

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