Politiet i Washington D.C. vil ikke lenger gripe inn i amerikansk-muslimske kvinners pågående protester mot områdets moskèer. Kvinnene krever retten til å be sammen med menn i moskèene, men har flere ganger blitt eskortert ut av politet etter klager fra mannlige muslimer.

I flere måneder har en gruppe muslimske kvinner har provosert frem konfrontasjoner i hovedstadens moskèer ved å hevde sin rett til å be sammen med menn. Protestene har ledet til rasende krangler mellom kvinnene og konservative menn i moskèene, og politiet har dermed blitt tilkalt for å eskortere kvinnene vekk:

As late as February of this year, D.C. police escorted a group of women out of the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue Northwest after complaints from the men there. There was another confrontation in Falls Church last month, and police intervened there, too.

Washington Examiner har imidlertid fått fatt i en intern e-post som viser at politiet i D.C. har bestemt seg for at moskèenes menn får greie seg selv mot de demonstrerende kvinnene. E-posten viser til at politisjef Cathy Laniers holdning er at politiet ikke skal involvere seg i moskè-striden, og understreker at det er «viktig at våre politibetjenter ikke eskorterer kvinner ut derfra»:

«We are not to get involved,» Inspector Matthew Klein wrote in a May 24 e-mail. «Important that our officers not escort women out of there.»

Klein’s e-mail, marked «IMPORTANT,» follows a directive from Police Chief Cathy Lanier to her command staff, telling them to «make sure your [officers] are aware of our position. …»

D.C.’s reversal is a victory for a small group of reform-minded Muslims in the capital region who say that their faith has to shake off its backward view of women.

Told of the department’s about-face, protest organizer Fatima Thompson let out a sustained whoop.

«This is such a win,» she said. «We’re supposed to be one community. Yet the moment we walk in, we’re separated one from the other.»

Thompson converted to Islam from Catholicism 18 years ago. She said that in recent years, she’s grown increasingly worried about the role of Saudi-backed conservatives in the faith and sees her protests as a push back.

«I’m frustrated that so many Muslims … are demanding that the world adapt to their religion,» she said. «They’re guests in these many countries. I think that the correct way is to try to adapt to whatever society we find ourselves, instead.»

An official at the Islamic Center declined comment.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said Sunday he was not aware that the police had changed their policy.

But the department’s climb-down raised the hackles of Ilya Shapiro, a legal scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute.

«The religious angle is beside the point. This isn’t a lunch counter or a restaurant or a hotel,» he said. «Basically this is a private institution, and that’s what this turns on — private property rights. If you don’t want a trespasser on your lawn … you do rely on the police, ultimately, to eject people you don’t want.»

Washington Examiner: D.C. police won’t intervene to remove women from mosques

Les mer om saken på nettsiden Responsible for Equality og Liberty R.E.A.L: DC Police to No Longer Arrest Muslim Women Praying in Mosque Main Hall

Selected Washington DC media outlets have been reporting on the story of controversies over the Islamic Center in Washington DC, and women who seek to pray in the main hall, rather than in a segregated room. Muslim women have been protesting over their segregated prayer facilities since February 2010. Muslim women state that they have had to be segregated in a small room with a 7 foot high wall. WAMU radio quoted one Muslim woman as stating that the segregated prayer room made her feel «Boxed in, stifling, suffocating and totally a second class citizen.»