Saudi women's Olympic march draws praise, blame
By Asma Alsharif
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - The appearance of Saudi Arabia's first female Olympic athletes at the Games' opening ceremony prompted a heated online debate on Saturday, with some conservative Islamists denouncing the women as shameless but many praising them.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani, who is to compete in the +78kg judo category, and 800 meter runner Sarah Attar marched behind the men in their national delegation during the ceremony in London on Friday.
Conservative Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia oppose women's sport, arguing that it is immodest and goes against their nature. That view was reflected in Twitter postings including one under a hashtag that would translate as "Olympic_Whores".
"One should not hesitate to describe their participation as shameful and a great sin," Khaled al-Jabri, whose Twitter profile listed him as a Saudi from Jeddah, wrote on Saturday in one of thousands of postings on the subject that ran in the hours after the ceremony.
"Whores of the Olympics...They want to run so that they intentionally fall down and reveal (their figures)," said a tweeter under the name @mloven2100, who identified himself as a Saudi.
But supporters of the athletes hijacked the hashtag to post messages in their defense.
"I'm proud of Saudi women's participation in the Olympics," wrote Fahad al-Enzi, a member of a prominent Saudi tribe whose profile listed him as from Riyadh.
A woman who identified herself as Safaa, a Saudi, tweeted: "Women walking behind the Saudi delegation is historic. Next we'll be carrying the flag and walking side by side, equal." Continued...