Preacher suspended for denigrating women.
Summary: Social furore as religious figure says women should never be allowed to drive
By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Manama: The Emir of Asir in southern Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal Bin Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz, has suspended a religious preacher from leading prayers and giving Friday sermons and lectures after he claimed that women were only slightly capable of thinking.
A spokesperson for the Emir said that Prince Faisal took the decision in response to angry reactions on social media following the lecture by Saad Al Hajari.
In his lecture entitled "20 Reasons Not to Allow Women to Drive", Al Hajari said that women had only half brains and could not think properly.
He added that the 50 per cent dwindles to 25 per cent when women go shopping.
"Now, who is the traffic official who would give a driving license to a driver with only 25 per cent of thinking aptitude?" he asked the audience, trying to elicit their approval for his argument.
"The Emir's decision aims to tackle any attempt to incite public opinion and to abuse religious platforms to present arguments that wade into controversy and denigrate people," the spokesperson, Saad Bin Abdullah Al Thabet, said.
"Anyone who uses religious platforms to make claims that do not serve the public welfare and the higher interests of the nation will come under such a decision."
Most online users welcomed the emir's decision, saying that he was contributing to the unity and cohesion of the unity of the society.
Although there is no legal text that bans women from driving in Saudi Arabia, women caught behind the steering wheel are held and released after they sign a pledge not to drive again.
The ban is attributed to heavy social pressure, although those who support allowing women to drive are becoming more numerous in the kingdom amid anticipation that the de-facto ban will be lifted soon.
Those who oppose allowing women to drive often invoke religious, social and economic arguments to support their view.
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