Saudi Arabia Cleric Argues Driving Is ‘Dangerous And Exposes Women To Evil’

Saudi Arabia's most senior cleric has voiced his support for the kingdom's ban on women driving, arguing it is "a dangerous matter that exposes women to evil."

The kingdom adheres to an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam and is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.

Though no laws ban women from driving in Saudi Arabia, authorities do not issue them licenses, the Associated Press reports.

Mufti Sheikh Abulaziz Al Sheikh
Mufti Sheikh Abulaziz Al Sheikh

Women's rights activists have faced detention for trying to defy the ban.

Speaking on the religious satellite channel al-Majd, Mufti Sheikh Abulaziz Al Sheikh said men with "weak spirits" who are "obsessed with women" could cause female drivers harm and that family members would not know the whereabouts of women.

His comments were published on Sunday on the state-linked Sabq news website.

Dr Saleh Al-Saadoon explained: “If a woman drives from one city to another and her car breaks down, what will become of her?”

When his host pointed out women in the rest of the world endure this hardship, Dr Al-Saadoon replied: “They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside but we do.”

Saudi Arabia’s poor record for women’s rights and human rights has long been in the global spotlight.

Women cannot obtain identification cards without the consent of her male guardian and floggings and death sentences are commonplace.

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.

In November 2012 it emerged women were being electronically monitored with authorities using SMS to track them and inform their husbands of their whereabouts.

It was only in 2011 that women were given the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections in 2015.