Friday, 29 November 2013
Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh urged citizens not to be too preoccupied with the controversy surrounding a de-facto ban on women driving, saying the ban should be perceived as a way to protect the society from “evil,” Saudi media reported on Thursday.
Al-Sheikh made the statement in a speech on Wednesday at Taibah University in the western city of Medina.
The grand mufti also warned students of the “media evil,” which he said is targeting the state and its achievements in the service of Islam and Muslims, the London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported.
He also urged the students to be united and to defend their religion and society during a period characterized with "conflicting views and great troubles."
The issue of women driving has been a tense debate in the Kingdom for years, but in recent months it has gained international media attention. In October, a group of women activists cancelled a campaign urging women to challenge the de-facto ban by driving their cars in the streets.
The decision to cancel the campaign was taken after a wave of uproar from ultra-conservative scholars and following an interior ministry warning.
The head of the kingdom’s religious police had said in September that the “Islamic sharia does not have a text forbidding women driving.”
Sheikh Abdulatif al-Sheikh stressed that since he was appointed as head of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice religious police have not pursued or stopped a woman driving.
Driving side affectsBut some hardliners tried to provide various justifications for the ban. One them Saad al-Luhaydan, a judicial and psychological consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association, warned women that driving could affect their ovaries and pelvises.
Driving “could have a reverse physiological impact. Physiological science and functional medicine studied this side [and found] that it automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis. This is why we find for women who continuously drive cars their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees,” Sheikh al-Luhaydan said.
Sheikh al-Luhaydan urged these women to consider “the mind before the heart and emotion and look at this issue with a realistic eye.”
“The result of this is bad and they should wait and consider the negativities,” he said.