Saudi cleric suggests women too stupid to drive

A Saudi cleric has been pilloried for saying women should not drive because their brains shrink to “a quarter the size” after they have been shopping. In order to make his point, Hijri posed the question of what a traffic department would do if it found a man with half a brain.

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive, despite ambitious government reforms aimed at boosting female employment.

Sheikh Saad Al-Hijri, the head of government’s religious edict authority in the southern province stirred controversy during a recent religious lecture on “the evils of allowing a woman to drive”, reports say.

“Would it give him a license or not?”

“The ban sends a message that preaching platforms will not be used to undercut the values of equality, justice and respect for women that are inherent in Islam”, an official statement said, citing a spokesman for Asir’s governor.

Al-Hajari then said, “And if they go out to the market this gets halved again”. Others who use religious platforms to preach such views that do not serve the national interest would also be banned, the spokesperson added.

A Saudi cleric has been suspended for making inflammatory comments about women. Others, however, were less charitable and applauded the disciplinary measures taken against Hijri, even going so far as to reference the cleric’s mother. “So how would you give one to a woman when she has half an intellect”. “He and his like must be banned from appearing anywhere”, a Twitter user wrote.

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