Saudi Writer Sparks Controversy By Saying Women Are Treated Like ‘Coal Bags’

Afghan women wait with a child to get food from distribution scheme held during Ramadan in
Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty

JAFFA, Israel – A Saudi columnist sparked controversy when he accused his compatriots of ignoring women’s “illustrious role” in Muslim history and relegating them to the status of a “coal bag.”

Abdullah Khayat wrote in Okaz newspaper that women are completely excluded from the public scene, and that 95 percent of the human capital in the kingdom is inefficient.

Khayat’s use of the phrase “coal bag” was particularly controversial, as social media critics believed it referred to Saudi women’s traditional black garb.

Under the hashtag #Okaz_thinks_women_are_coal_bags, Twitter user Khaled called on Saudi women: “Your pure hijab is a signal of your piety and purity and modesty. Whoever tells you otherwise is a pimp.”

“If women are coal bags, he is a rubbish bag,” responded Abdullah.

Ulfa tweeted on behalf of women: “I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. He didn’t say anything that’s inaccurate… Society covers women in black, which is the color of coal and garbage.”

The London-based Islamic philosopher Hani Subaee wrote: “A Saudi pig who is a rubbish bag himself declares the veiled women are coal bags.”

Moenes retorted: “Is there any text or directive that says that women’s clothes in the Gulf must be black, unlike women elsewhere?”

“When Denmark mocked our Prophet we boycotted them. Now our press and television mocks the Prophet’s orders,” Musaed wrote.

Other twitterati accused Saudi liberals of undermining the Kingdom’s Islamic foundations.

“This is part of the anti-Saudi campaign led by former Al Arabiya director Adel Tarifi,” Meali wrote. “Victory will eventually be on the side of religion and justice.”

He then added: “Our public expects to see an uncompromising condemnation of Okaz by the Minister of Culture and Communication for their assault on our mothers, wives, and girls.”

“He is lucky I wasn’t around when he called Saudi women coal bags,” Gamedi wrote. “He offended my mother.”


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