Pointed protest

Spain's justice minister cancels a talk at a Saudi university because the school won't let women attend the event.

By Catherine Price
Published January 16, 2007 7:00PM (EST)

This from the Associated Press: On Monday, Spain's justice minister, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, canceled a lecture he was scheduled to give at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Saudi Arabia when four female journalists accompanying him were not allowed to attend his talk.

The women had been dressed head to foot in black, with accompanying black head scarves (as they'd been advised to do by the Spanish Embassy). But apparently that wasn't enough for the conservative, all-male university, which has a strict ban on women, period, regardless of what they're wearing. (Good thing they'd skipped the burkinis!)

I find Aguilar's reaction pleasantly surprising. After attempts failed to persuade school officials to allow the reporters to attend, Aguilar canceled the talk (which was supposed to be about the challenges of globalization) and instead distributed printed copies of the speech to students -- which meant that he still got his points about globalization across to his audience, but made a point of embarrassing the school officials for their exclusionary decision.

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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