Gulf | Saudi Arabia

Uproar after Saudi cleric says driving hurts women’s ovaries

Saudis mock senior cleric for suggesting that driving damages ovaries

  • AFP
  • Published: 18:40 September 29, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Courtesy: YouTube
  • Saleh Al Lohaidan

Riyadh: A Saudi cleric sparked a wave of mockery online when he warned women that driving would affect their ovaries and bring “clinical disorders” upon their children.

The warning came ahead of an October 26 initiative to defy a longstanding driving ban on women in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

“Physiological science” has found that driving “automatically affects the ovaries and pushes up the pelvis”, Shaikh Saleh Al Lohaidan warned women in remarks to local news website Sabq.org.

“This is why we find that children born to most women who continuously drive suffer from clinical disorders of varying degrees,” he said.

His comments prompted criticism on Twitter, which has become a rare platform for Saudis to voice their opinions in the absolute monarchy.

“What a mentality we have. People went to space and you still ban women from driving. Idiots,” said one comment.

“When idiocy marries dogma in the chapel of medieval traditions, this is their prodigal child,” wrote a female tweeter.

Al Lohaidan, a member of the senior Ulema (Muslim scholars) Commission and former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, said that “evidence from the Quran and Sunna [the teachings of the Prophet] completely prohibit [women’s driving] on moral and social background.”

An online petition titled “Oct 26th, driving for women” amassed nearly 12,000 signatures, while access to it was blocked in the kingdom on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are banned from driving.

Activists declared a day of defiance against the ban on June 17, 2011, but few women answered the call to drive. Some of those who did were stopped by police and forced to sign a pledge not to take to the wheel again.

Saudi Arabia imposes other restrictions on women, including a requirement to cover themselves from head to toe when in public.

The 2011 call, which spread through Facebook and Twitter, was the largest mass action since November 1990, when 47 Saudi women were arrested and severely punished after demonstrating in cars.

Comments (18)

  1. Added 18:08 September 30, 2013

    Is it the 1st April ?????

    David Woodward, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 16:15 September 30, 2013

    Do these clerics dare each other as to who could give the most laughable and ridiculous explanation for women not being allowed to drive in their country? Or do they just have a very strange sense of humor? Either way it has worked. This is definitely funny!

    Anwar, Sheikh, United Kingdom

  3. Added 15:42 September 30, 2013

    I don't understand why people interfere in other countries matters, why are people to concerned about women driving or not driving in KSA? what business do they have interfering their jurisdiction? its their matter let them handle according to their merits (which no one is aware)

    Hassan, Karachi, Pakistan

  4. Added 15:39 September 30, 2013

    i have to ask just 2 questions to Shaikh Saleh Al Lohaidan??? where exactly in Quran is it written that women should not "drive" else they will have problem if they drive.. and if they did have problem while driving.. wont it also have same problem if they sat behind??

    farhan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:54 September 30, 2013

    As a Muslim its extremely critical to follow what's written in Quran and what is proven from Authentic Hadeeth and that's what faith is all about. Whatever instructions mentioned in Quran and in Hadeeth have always proved to be scientifically correct and it has been proved time and time again. Whether its the shape of Earth, info about axis of planets, or other science related facts proved right by science of this era. So i request all the commentators to wait and watch that if the info provided by Shaikh is true it will certainly be accepted by science soon Inshallah. Please keep in mind that this book is given to us by our Creator and the knowledge and facts that this book has got is like ocean and the knowledge that we have is like a droplet of water. So, i humbly request everyone to respect our Religion and our Shaikhs. Ur Comments can hurt someone's religious sentiments.

    Abdul Razzak, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:56 September 30, 2013

    There is no such thing in islam. it's just a male domination. women in islam has more rights, how can he give such remarks. in the other parts of the world women are driving, happily married & child bearing then why only in saudi women will suffer from ovary problem. ridiculous this is really. its because of these kind of people islam is being crtisied. these male's will just take name of islam and implement rules of their own which doesnt even exist in islam. islam has given equal rights to male's & female's and islam has ordered male's to treat women with love & respect but here nothing is being followed these people are just trying to dominate the female population!!!!!!! may Allah give them hidayat.Ameen

    shahnaz ali kamran, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 13:39 September 30, 2013

    A Saudi cleric is a Saudi citizen and has given his opinion. This should in no way be understood that Islam has put a ban on women driving. Next time when you put up such a story, please present the proof either from Quran or Hadith where it is derived from. Such opinions and observations are derived from social and cultural factors and not religion.

    Sultan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 13:34 September 30, 2013

    Every Country has its rules and we should abide by it. While in West things are OK, they are not same in SAUDI What is needed is dialog between scholars and civil society groups in a cultured manner where pros and cons are discussed and resolved. Personally I believe WOMAN Should be allowed to compete with men in all field and so be in driving. I really liked the comment - Thank GOD we are in UAE. UAE is very balanced society - it has taken best of the west in terms of science, technology, banking, however has always retained its culture, style and eastern fabrics. Wishing UAE leaders a great future for making this place a real multicultural place for all faiths and practice to live together in PEACE.

    sandeep, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 12:58 September 30, 2013

    I just laugh when i read this news. Let be the freedom for ladies in saudi arabia be the same for men! We are not on prehistoric age! Come on authorities in saudi arabia...

    charles, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 12:33 September 30, 2013

    I agree that above sheikh has no clarity of what he was saying. He might have said to scare out females from driving. However I have noticed one thing, when ever any sheikh specially in Saudia gives out such comments. Gulf news like other western media will post and make other think about Islam as a mockery. If it wasn't they could have posted title saying "Sheikh giving unislamic fatwa" but they have other intentions. There are so many other fatwas saudi sheikh gives daily and are not posted. Stop showing people dark side of Islam to others as Islam is a religion of giving, peace and tolerance, if you only understand and have ready history. and Allah knows best

    Muhammad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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