Riyadh: The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia said a ban on women driving in the conservative Gulf state protects society from evil, in remarks published in the press on Thursday.
Shaikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Shaikh, in a speech delivered on Wednesday in the holy city of Madinah, said the issue of giving women the right to drive should not be one of societys major concerns, reported Gulf News.
The kingdoms most senior cleric called for the matter to be considered from the perspective of protecting society from evil which, according to him, included letting women drive.
His comments came as activists said they had been assured by Interior Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef that authorities were reassessing the controversial Saudi ban on women drivers.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, a regulation that has drawn condemnation from the international community.
Saudi Arabia has an all-appointed consultative Shura Council, with no elected parliament. The council makes recommendations to the government, but the king remains the absolute legislator.
At least 16 women were stopped by police during a driving protest day last month, and were fined and forced along with their male guardians to promise to obey the kingdoms laws.
In addition to the driving ban, Saudi women are forced to cover themselves from head to toe and need permission from a male guardian to travel, work and marry.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.