Footage of a Saudi cleric calling for all female babies to have their faces covered with the burkha has surfaced.
Sheikh Abdullah Daoud delivered the fatwa on Islamic al-Majd TV and stressed his belief the veil would protect baby girls from being sexually molested.
The clip, flagged up by Al Arabiya, sees him attempting to back up the ruling by quoting unnamed Saudi Arabian medical and security sources.
Sheikh Mohammad al-Jzlana, a former judge at the Saudi Board of Grievances, told the channel the ruling was “denigrating to Islam and Shariah and made Islam look bad.”
Al-Jzlana also urged Muslims to ignore “unregulated” fatwas.
While the comments have been greeted with outrage on social media, it is not the first time Saudi officials have made controversial comments of this nature.
Jihad Watch points out comments made by Saudi marriage official Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu’bi which were aired on LBC TV in 2008.
He said: “There is no minimal age for entering marriage. You can have a marriage contract even with a one-year-old girl, not to mention a girl of nine, seven or eight. This is merely a contract [indicating] consent.”
While Daoud’s comments were made in October last year, they have been revisited in light of the verdict against a Saudi cleric accused of raping and torturing his five-year-old daughter to death.
According to the Associated Press, Fayhan al-Ghamdi was ordered to pay $50,000 “blood money” to the slain girl’s mother, but was spared a jail sentence. He is said to have questioned the girl's virginity.
Under Saudi Arabian Islamic law, a father cannot be executed for murdering his children or his wife.
Of Daoud’s comments, Digital Journal writes: “Some agree that instances of reported sexual assault against young girls within Saudi Arabia are on the increase.
“The reason for the increased reporting is debated however. Some believe that it is due to an actual increase in the number of assaults occurring. Others believe it is due to new child protection laws enacted in January of 2011.
The hadith (sayings and acts) of Prophet Muhammed state a girl is not required to wear any head or body covering until she reaches puberty.