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'Saving Seats' in Saudi's Grand Mosque

'Saving Seats' in Saudi's Grand Mosque
An unofficial market of "seat saving" is reportedly making waves in Saudi Arabia: female faithful are paying good money to women who can save them spots for prayer at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.
The "seat savers" technique is to use clothing, purses, and even their own children to save seats for wealthier prayers who may arrive at the mosque just on time or a bit late, particularly on days when prayer attendance is high.
The Saudi Grand Mufti has issued a fatwa against the reserving of seats in the mosque. According to The Saudi Gazette, female guides working in the women's section regularly combat the practice of seat saving, and during the month of Ramadan (when many Muslims pray frequently at the mosque) such guides are supported by female police officers.
Many mosques worldwide, including all Saudi mosques, feature separate sections for women and men. This YouTube video shows just how crowded the Grand Mosque can get - and thus perhaps just how lucrative a seat-saving venture might be.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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