A leading Saudi Arabian “self-help” writer and cleric has reportedly urged his 97,000+ Twitter followers to sexually molest working women in the nation’s grocery stores.
Using an Arabic hashtag translated by various news outlets as "#harass_female_cashiers", Abdullah Mohammed Daoud apparently made the comments in an attempt to "encourage" Saudi Arabian women to stay at home and protect their chastity - as the country's female labour force increases.
Daoud’s tweet, which was picked up by Gulf News, was reportedly “justified” by a homily about a 7th century Islamic warrior who did not want his wife to leave home to visit the mosque.
The paper writes: “Daoud claimed that Al Zubair hid in the dark one night and molested his wife on the street. The wife rushed home and decided against ever going out of her house again, saying ‘there is no safer place than home and the world out there is corrupt’.”
The IBI Times quotes conservative cleric Khalid Ebrahim Al Saqabi as endorsing the call and claiming the government's proposed law against sexual harassment was "only meant to encourage consensual debauchery".
However, others were less enthused.
Daoud has also retweeted several messages from other twitter users critical of women mixing with men in the workforce, since his original tweet on Sunday.
One of Daoud's arguments is that allowing women to work is tantamount to human trafficking and that females are being exploited to attract business, the BBC says.
According to Riyadh Bureau, Daoud is the same conservative writer who sparked controversy by suggesting female babies should wear burkas to prevent them from being sexually molested.
Women are not permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia, which has a poor women's rights record, and where religious police only recently lifted a ban on females riding motorbikes and bicycles – as long as they wear the full-length veil and are accompanied by a male relative.
The Gulf Kingdom is governed by Sharia law, and it is illegal for Saudi women to travel abroad without male accompaniment. They may only do so if their guardian agrees by signing a document know as a 'yellow sheet' at an airport or border crossing.
It was only in 2011 that women were given the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections in 2015.