Muslim cleric Ahmed Al-abedulqader is a member of the Islamic Ministry for Da’wah, Guidance and Endowments and he clearly has “issues” with women, particularly when they served in public positions. Recently, women were allowed to serve on the Shura Council, a formal advisory body to the King of 150 members who can propose laws and advise him. It was a significant and commendable act by the King — a hopeful sign of reform for women’s rights. That appears to be the very reason that Al-abedulqader and other clerics unleashed sexist tirades. In Al-abedulqader’s case, he took to Twitter to call the women “prostitutes.” Dr. Saleh al-Sugair, a former teaching assistant at King Saud University, also went public and called the women the “fifth of society” for their historic achievement.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has appointed 30 women to the country’s previously all-male Shura Council in a move that is viewed as part of a careful and slow process of giving women basic rights and opportunities in the Kingdom. This modest reform however has met with a torrent of outrage, though others defended the women and the King. I have met many modern and intelligent Saudis who privately complain about the backward laws of the Kingdom. However, the response to this reform shows the opposition among conservative Islamic figures to the public role of women in society.
Al-abedulqader wrote “They thought they can mock the mufti by giving these ‘prostitutes’ legitimacy to be in power. I am not an imposter, and imposters do not fool me. For how long will the forts of virtues be torn down?” He then attacked those who defended the women as being unfaithful to Islam: “We have heard and read many insults against (God) as well as mockery against the prophet, prayer be upon him, and none of those defending (these female) members was angered.”
Then there was the Saudi academic, Dr. Saleh al-Sugair, who tweeted: “The insolent (women) wearing make-up at the Shura Council represent the society? God, no. They are the filth of society.” He went on to add “The fools of the Shura council, these immodest women represent the society? I swear by God’s name they do not. They are society’s scum, garbage.”
Al-Sugair has previously spoken out against hiring women in hospitals and asked such bizarre questions as “what is the point of having a male doctor with a female secretary?” By the way, if you think this guy is just some hateful wing nut, he has 40,000 followers on twitter.