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Saudi cleric says women have 'a quarter of the intellect' of men

The unofficial ban on women driving has been hotly contested in recent years [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 September, 2017

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In Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive, a senior state cleric has said women should not be allowed behind the wheel because they have "a quarter the brainpower of men".
In Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive, a senior state cleric has ruled women should not be allowed behind the wheel because they have "a quarter the brainpower of men".

Sheikh Saad al-Hajari, the head of the government's religious edict authority in the southern province of Assir, recently made the comments at a lecture on "the evils of allowing women to drive", Saudi daily Sabq reported on Wednesday.

"It is not their fault, but women lack intellect do they not?" Hajari asked an audience.

"Their lack of intellect does not harm their piousness because they are made that way," he said, explaining that in Islam a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's.

"Would you give a man with half an intellect a driving licence? So how would you give one to a woman when she has half an intellect," he said.

"And if they go out to the market this gets halved again! So they now have a quarter of an intellect," Hajari said without giving an explanation for his reasoning.

He then argues that because women pray less than men - during menstruation women are prohibited from prayers - they also have half the "faith" of men.

The sheikh's comments have been circulated widely by social media users in the conservative kingdom with many people harshly criticising his reasoning.


Translation: "This person is offending and denigrating Saudi women, authorities must take action against him and fire him from his position."  

Translation: "The real problem is that a few of these clerics explain and interpret religion as they please and use our religion as an excuse to do the worst things." 

The unofficial ban on women driving has been hotly contested in recent years with prominent figures coming out and endorsing a lift on the prohibition.

Earlier this year, a Saudi female university student heroically drove a bus driver to safety after he suffered a stroke while behind the wheel.


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