JEDDAH (AFP) - Women cashiers were at work in several Jeddah supermarkets on Saturday as their employers ignored a fatwa by the countrys highest religious authority forbidding female checkout clerks. The popular Marhaba chain kept the women on the job despite the six-day-old ruling signed by Grand Mufti Sheikh al-Sheikh and six other senior religious scholars which contradicted a key government policy to create jobs for women. A Marhaba official said the women would keep working until they received an order from the labour ministry to stop the practice, only begun in the past three months after the ministry said it was permitted. We will continue to let the women do their jobs. We have not received any official letter from the ministry of labour to stop the practice, he said on condition of anonymity. We have more than 25 women working now in all our branches he said. It was unclear whether Panda, another supermarket chain pioneering the use of female checkout cashiers, had its women working Saturday. On Sunday the official fatwa-issuing body under the Council of Senior Scholars, the top Saudi Islamic authority, ruled that the cashier jobs were not permissible because they resulted in the women mixing with unrelated men. It is not permissible for a woman to work in a place where they mix with men, the fatwa said. It is necessary to keep away from places where men congregate. Women should look for decent work that does not make it possible for them to attract men or be attracted by men. The fatwa, which can be cited in the courts under Saudi Arabias Sharia-based legal system, posed a direct challenge to a key government policy of creating jobs for women.