Indian Muslim cleric says women watching soccer un-Islamic

A senior cleric at an influential Islamic seminary in northern India has issued a religious decree saying that Muslim women should not watch men playing soccer.

Mufti Athar Kasmi said over the weekend that watching men "playing with bare knees" violated the tenets of Islam. Kasmi is cleric at Darul Uloom, Asia's largest Sunni Muslim seminary in the northern town of Deoband.

Kasmi's decree comes even as the Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia allowed women in to watch matches in soccer stadiums earlier this month.

The Islamic seminary's rigid interpretation of Islam is the ideological foundation for many hard-line religious groups including the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

The majority of Indian Muslims are Sunni but the country's secular constitution ensures that decrees such as Kasmi's have no legal force.