It was not Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but Saudi Arabian authorities who allowed women over the age of 45 to travel alone for Haj, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said on Monday.
Owaisi was referring to Modi’s comments made on Sunday during his “Mann ki Baat” radio show. “We have changed this rule, and this year, around 1,300 women applied to go without a male guardian,” Modi had said.
“It is the Saudi Haj authorities that allowed any Muslim women above 45 years from any country without a Mehram [male companion],” Owaisi said. “It does not behove the prime minister to take credit for what a foreign government has done.”
Saudi Arabia recently relaxed a rule to allow women over 45 to undertake the pilgrimage without a Mehram, provided they travelled with a group, The Telegraph reported. The women are also required to carry a notarised certificate from their father, brother or son which allows them to travel with a group.
Owaisi said it had “become the habit of the prime minister to claim credit for everything”. “When tomorrow women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to drive, he will claim credit for that,” Owaisi said, according to IANS.
Owaisi added that if Modi was concerned about the welfare of Muslim women, he should give them reservation in education.
During his “Mann Ki Baat” address, Modi said, “When I went into the depth of the matter, I was surprised to find that even after 70 years of independence, we were the ones who had imposed these restrictions,” he said.
The prime minister said there is a lottery system that selects Haj pilgrims. “I would like for single women pilgrims to be excluded from this system and given a chance in a special category.”