A top Saudi cleric sparked controversy by releasing an online sermon in which he made statements that were misogynistic even by the standards of the ultraconservative kingdom.
The Saudi Ministry of Religion condemned Said Ben Farwa’s sermon, in which he said anyone whose daughter, sister or female relative works as a doctor, nurse or pharmacist is “not a man, because he has no honor.” He further called female medical and paramedical students “prostitutes,” because the studies of these professions bring about an “unnecessary mixing of the sexes” that contravenes Sharia law.
He said jealousy is part of what being a Muslim is, and he who is not jealous is not a man, “and if it makes someone angry – so be it.”
He lashed out at men who allow their daughters to sit in the same lecture halls alongside men with whom they have no family relation.
“How do these criminal parents allow their daughters to study abroad and meet the foreigners – the redhead American and the blond Briton?” he said.
Just like him, she rents a single room in student accommodation. “I am a man, and I’m saying this because when we see a beautiful woman, our urges come into play. What do you say when it happens to your daughter and to your sister?”
Following Ben Farwa’s speech, the Mufti of Saudi Arabia instructed the Department of Islamic Affairs to “reeducate” or oust him, and the Ministry of Religion said anyone who gives him a platform would be penalized.
The Mufti Sheikh Abdelaziz Elsheikh said that Ben Farwa’s statements are false.
“Sermons are a huge thing, and should be delivered by people who were reeducated,” he said. “Alternatively they should be ousted from that influential position.”
Ben Farwa refused to apologize or retract some of his statements, and invited the “fools” who misunderstood him to file a complaint.
“I didn’t hurt anyone, certainly not the Saudi society,” he said.
— مجتمعنا (@KSASociety) November 30, 2016
This latest controversy comes against a background of an ongoing debate for and against sex education in Saudi schools.
“Young people should undergo premarital courses,” Abu Muhammad tweeted. “There is a deficit in sexual culture. We demand that sex education be introduced in our schools.”
نقدم دورات المقبلين على الزواج وبصراحة هناك نقص كبير في الثقافة الجنسية #نطالب_بتدريس_الثقافه_الجنسيه
— ابو مهند الشمراني (@ssaleh44447) November 30, 2016
Another retorted: “First educate them to virtue, and then turn to other fields of education.”
تعلموا الثقافة الاخلاقية اول شيء – وطالبوا بالثقافات الاخرى !.
— س َ (@iSAwfi) November 30, 2016
“I don’t think the next generation needs sex ed,” Jarfass responded. “I think they can teach their teachers.”
ما اعتقد ان الاجيال القادمة تحتاج تدريس، اتوقع هم اللي بيعلمون المدرس.
— جَرفاس (@Jarfass) November 30, 2016
“I have nothing against teaching it in university, but before that, in school, it should be forbidden,” another wrote.