Manama: Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online after staff at a Riyadh university barred male paramedics from entering a women's-only campus to assist a student who had suffered a heart attack and later died.
Amna Bawazeer, a Master’s student at the College of Social Studies at King Saud University in the capital Riyadh, suffered the heart attack at 11 am at the women’s college where she was finalising her course timetable for the second semester.
However, when the ambulance arrived, the medics were not allowed to enter the college for two hours.
The university officials argued that the ambulance staff were males and could not enter the premises as the student was not covered and that no man could be allowed into the women’s college even though Amna needed prompt and vital treatment, local daily Okaz reported on Thursday.
Most of the students who witnessed the incident suffered a psychological shock and some of the young women collapsed after crying hysterically amid loud protests about refusing the medics to enter the building and rescue their friend who had suffered a massive heart attack, the report said.
Some of the students said that they were shocked by the university officials’ attitude not to allow male medics to enter the college.
“Islam is a religion that facilitates practices, and the religious rule, in exceptional situations, are relaxed,” some of the students told the daily. “We do not see any necessity that is more pressing than rescuing the life of a human being from imminent death.”
The students insisted that the officials who refused to allow the medical team into the college on the pretext they were men should be held accountable for the incident, the report said.
All comments on the newspaper site offered their sympathy to Amna’s family and condemned the “lack of sense” and the “absence of logic” that resulted in the student’s death. They said that religion was not a factor in the negative attitude of those who prevented the medics from entering the college.
Several online users called for looking carefully into the incident and agree on a set of solutions to ensure it is not repeated.
Some suggested setting up advanced clinics in all colleges while others said that all ambulances heading to women’s colleges should include women on their staff to ensure they pass the “stubbornness” of officials.
Co-education is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia at all levels.
In 2002, 15 schoolgirls died in a fire in Makkah after, according to reports at the time, religious police stopped them from leaving a burning building because they were not properly dressed.