Saudi cleric (or religious leader) Saad Al-Hijri has been suspended from preaching, leading prayers, and other religious activities because of an opinion he shared in a lecture on “the evils of woman driving.” According to him, women should not be allowed to drive because they only possess half of a brain.
Saudi Arabia remains one of the most conservative nations in the world. Women are still banned from driving, despite attempts by the government to increase women’s roles in the public. Women are also required to cover themselves in long robes and a headscarf in public, and most activities they participate in must be approved by a man, normally a family member or guardian.
Al-Hijri’s suspension was ordered by the provincial governor, who says that the decision is aimed at preventing the spread of news that sparks controversy. It has been made clear that other clerics who have such views will be banned as well.
The video, which captured him making these claims about the anatomy of a woman’s brain, was uploaded to YouTube, but it has since been taken down. In the video, he hypothetically asks the traffic department what they would do if they discovered that a man only has half of a brain.
“Would [the department] give him a license or not? It would not,” he said. “So how can [the department] give it to a woman, when she only has half [of a brain]?”
Al-Hijiri then goes on to make claims about activities that further diminish the size of a woman’s brain.
“If she goes to the market, she loses another half. What is left? A quarter. We demand the traffic department check because she is not suitable to drive and she has only a quarter,” he said.
These comments sparked an outrage on social media, specifically Twitter, which is very popular in the Saudi Arabia. Twitter users shared the video of Al-Hijri under an Arabic hashtag which translates to “Al-Hijri-woman-quarter-brain.” This hashtag was used more than 119,000 times in the 24 hours after the video went viral.
“[His mother] became pregnant with him, gave birth to him, raised him, spent sleepless nights for him until he grew up, and now he calls her a woman with a quarter of a brain. He and his like must be banned from appearing anywhere,” said a Twitter user.
Some people do not believe the ban is enough to combat the misogynistic government.
“Even if Al-Hijri was banned from preaching, leading prayers and issuing fatwas (laws), there are many others with dark beards who issue provocative fatwas,” said another Twitter user.
Does Al-Hijri truly believe in the claims that he has made about the size of a woman’s brain? If so, someone please give this man an anatomy lesson! When outlandish and ridiculous remarks like these are made by men, it is clear that fear has taken over. Men fear women because of what women can accomplish when given the proper tools.
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