Melbourne, Nov.22 : Australia's most senior Muslim, Sheik Fehmi Najl el-Imam, has said he will end segregation of men and women in mosques, in a bold response to Islamic women's anger at entrenched discrimination.
The Mufti of Australia said he would put his proposal to the next meeting of the Australian National Imams' Council and consider how women could share the room with men during prayers.
According to The Age, Sheikh Fehmi said segregated worship had been introduced long ago, as a cultural change, not a religious one, and he would argue to end it.
"It is good to hear the complaints of the sisters, and to try to find some solution to their concerns," he told The Age in an exclusive interview.
"My duty is to propose, to discuss and try to convince. I can't guarantee the outcome," he added.
Sheikh Fehmi said that in the time of the Prophet Mohammed 1400 years ago, women were not segregated.
His announcement is likely to attract international attention and may spark fierce debate among highly conservative mosque communities within Australia.
In some mosques overseas, there are no physical barriers between men's and women's areas but in Australia almost every mosque separates men's and women's sections.