Riyadh: The Saudi Ministry of Labour has made it clear that it would continue issuing work permits to women to work as cashiers in shopping centres and would not be deterred by Islamist threats to boycott shops that employ women.
The experiment of employing Saudi women as cashiers has been implemented for the first time in leading shopping centres in Jeddah and the Eastern Province," Deputy Minister of Labour Dr Abdul Wahid Al Humaid said in a statement published on Sunday by Al Riyadh newspaper.
However, the controversial experiment has not been tried in Riyadh and Qassim.
Al Humaid urged the people to cooperate with the efforts of the ministry to find employment for women as this is one of the limited opportunities available for the employment of women.
A number of Saudis have launched a campaign on the Facebook for the ban of the Hyperpanda chains owned by the Savola Group for appointing women in its branches in Jeddah for the first time in Saudi Arabia where the society views men and women working together as demeaning to the dignity of Muslim women.
The activists said they would continue the campaign until the company issued an official statement stopping the employment of women. The campaign also fixed the middle of the next month as the deadline to stop women workers. If the company did not comply with the demand they would boycott Hyperpanda stores, they said.
Hyperpanda would not stop appointing women cashiers in its stores, Dr Mohammad Qashqari, executive president of the retail section of Savola Group, told Gulf News yesterday.
"The experiment of appointing women cashiers will be evaluated in the meeting of the company's board of directors to be held after the Eid holidays and then would be extended to other branches in the Kingdom," he said.
"The women are working at places where people can see them. They dress in religiously specified hijab and perfectly in line with the conservative social norms," he added.
Saudi Islamic scholar Dr Yousuf Al Ahmad condemned the policy of Hyperpanda markets to appoint women cashiers as haram.
"This is unlawful as it is an effort to westernise the Saudi society," he said.