Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric warns that women will be ‘exposed to evil’ if they’re allowed to drive

The most senior cleric of Saudi Arabia came out and defended a ban on female drivers, saying it’s “a dangerous matter that exposes women to evil.”

According to the Independent, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh told the religious television channel Almad TV that men with “weak spirits” and who are “obsessed with women” could cause harm to female drivers. He also said that if women were allowed to drive unaccompanied, their families would not know about their whereabouts.

In addition to other human rights violations, women’s rights has been a constant issue for ultraconservative Middle Eastern country of Saudi Arabia. Driving is essentially forbidden for women. A local license is required to drive but they are not issued to women.

Back in 2015, women’s rights campaigner Loujain al-Hathloul received a 10-week jail sentence for driving from the United Arab Emirates to the Saudi border in protest of the ban.

From the Independent:

The Kingdom has made some progress on women’s rights in recent times. In December woman were allowed to stand, and vote in, municipal elections for the first time.

Authorities also said divorced and widowed women would be allowed to get family ID cards for their children in future, so they can register them in schools and with healthcare services, according to Human Rights Watch.

However, longstanding male guardianship rules continue, forbidding women from marrying, [traveling], enrolling in higher education or obtaining a passport without permission from a male relative or guardian.

Back in March, the Grand Mufti forbade Saudi Arabians from playing chess, saying the classic game shows “enmity and hatred.” He also slammed the use of the social media platform Twitter, saying that it was the “source of all evil and devastation” and “promotes evil and harm,” although it’s hard to disagree with him on that.

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