RIYADH: Religious edicts, popular among them ban on women driving, are no strange concept in the context of Saudi Arabia and often they end up becoming a debate point with no conclusion whatsoever.
A cleric in Saudi Arabia has called to keep the ban against women driving there, after claiming that their “lack of intellect” compared to men meant they should not be in control of a car.
Sheikh Saad al-Hajari said that they had just half the brainpower of males – but this fell to a quarter when they “went to the market”.
Mr al-Hajari’s comments sparked calls for him to be ousted from his religious role, with his comments described as “offending and denigrating” women in Saudi Arabia, reported the Independent.
It comes amid growing protests against the ban on women driving that have swept across the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.
Saudi Arabia banned women from driving 60 years ago as part of a wider move to segregate men and women.
Mr al-Hajari, the head of the Saudi government’s religious edict authority in the southern province of Assir, spoke out against “the evils of allowing women to drive” at a lecture.
The cleric, who was quoted in a report by Saudi daily Sabq, said: “It is not their fault, but women lack intellect do they not?
“Would you give a man with half an intellect a driving licence? So how would you give one to a woman when she has half an intellect?
He added: “Their lack of intellect does not harm their piousness because they are made that way.
Mr al-Hajari was criticised on the social media for his claims.
Alshehri tweeted: “This person is offending and denigrating Saudi women, authorities must take action against him and fire him from his position.”
Wad Almtyr wrote: “The real problem is that a few of these clerics explain and interpret religion as they please and use our religion as an excuse to do the worst things.”