CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Interior Ministry officials do not have the right to block women from obtaining passports simply because their husbands don't want them to travel abroad, Egypt's highest court ruled Saturday.

Men in this male-dominated society long have been able to go to the Interior Ministry, which oversees domestic security, and put the names of their wives on a blacklist barring them from obtaining a passport.

Court officials, however, said the Constitutional Court ruled ``it is the right of the citizen to obtain and hold a passport since it is part of the personal freedom that is protected by the constitution, and the right of traveling is part of public freedoms.'' The officials spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

Men still can keep their wives from leaving Egypt. They are now required to petition the courts, which will decide case by case whether the woman can travel, the officials said.

Earlier this year, a new personal status law made it easier for women to divorce their husband after decades of it being virtually impossible for wives to initiate divorce actions.