Women in Saudi Arabia were in for a surprise when they went to Starbucks and saw a sign banning them from entering the shop.
Religious police in the capital Riyadh posted a notification on the door of the coffee shop announcing that the gender segregation wall in the shop collapsed. Since Saudi women are banned from driving and cannot move around in the country without a male chauffeur or blood relative, the religious police forced women customers to remain in their cars while drivers or male companions placed their orders.
Unreal. Starbucks in Saudi Arabia refused to serve women. Note on their door, plus official response from company. pic.twitter.com/d4tCSqqQOv— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) February 3, 2016
The management explained the wooden separation wall had tumbled down often in the past because of continuous jostling and stampede from the crowd.
Starbucks, like many other eateries in Saudi Arabia, adheres to the custom of providing separate sitting areas and entrances for individuals as well as families. It is strictly forbidden for women to unveil their faces in public or interact with unrelated men for risk of adultery and other severe charges.
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"All our stores provide equal amenities, service, menu and seating to men, women and families," Starbucks said in a statement. "We are working as quickly as possible as we refurbish our Jarir store, so that we may again welcome all customers in accordance with local customs."
A lot of people are not happy with this new development. One woman who was prohibited from entering tweeted out:
Many others also called the order very discriminatory toward women and posted:
@Starbucks tell ur ugly store in riyadh to allow women in smh— WILL TRAYNOR AF (@emiliatclarke) February 1, 2016
The Gulf Kingdom’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, dubbed the “religious police,” is the most powerful law enforcement in the kingdom whose job is to patrol the streets enforcing segregation, prayer and dress codes with full impunity.