Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic authority has warned the Gulf country not to become preoccupied with the issue of women’s right to drive, while accusing users of online social media of spreading “misleading doctrines”.
Giving a lecture at Saudi’s Taibah University, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh said that the “objective behind not allowing women to drive is to protect society from evils”.
Women are not permitted to drive in the highly conservative Gulf state, which practices an austere version of Wahabi Islam, despite there being no official law that prohibits this. In October, a number of female activists organised a nationwide day of defying the ban, with many posting video clips of themselves driving on YouTube.
The campaign was largely organised through online channels such as Twitter and came despite warnings from the government urging it not to go ahead.
He added that the Qur’an, the Islamic holy text, stipulated that Muslims must obey national rulers, in the latest example of the Grand Mufti’s increasingly political statements.
Last month, Sheikh Abdul Aziz warned young Saudis against travelling to Syria to join militias fighting President Bashar Al Assad. "This is all wrong, it's not obligatory," he said.
The Grand Mufti has attracted considerable controversy with his public statements in the past, including an alleged call to destroy all Christian churches in the Arabian Peninsula and giving his support to underage marriage of females.