The mufti of Saudi Arabia recently warned against calls in news outlets and social media from women who want the kingdom to repeal laws that recognize men as guardians over them.
The calls “are a crime against the religion of Islam and pose an existential threat to Saudi society,” said the Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh. “This is an evil call that goes against Sharia and the instructions of the prophet.”
The mufti’s comments come in response to a campaign launched on social media in which Saudi women have called for the cancellation of male guardianship. In Saudi Arabia today, a woman cannot marry, drive on her own, or request a passport without the approval and agreement of a male guardian, limiting their personal freedoms.
A related hashtag “#Throw_Down_Guardianship,” turned Twitter into an arena for conflict between men and women, though some men supported the campaign’s efforts.
One supporter, a Saudi Twitter user named Nasser Dashty, wrote that “under secularism women became judges, arbiters in disputes and leaders of countries but here, in this part of the world, they are still demanding the cancellation of guardianship.”
المرأة من خلال العلمانية أصبحت قاضية تفصل في النزاعات ورئيسة دولة تحكم البلادوهناك في بقعةٍ ما من كوكب الأرض لازالت تُطالب ب #اسقاط_الولاية
— 🇼﮼ناصردشتي🇼 (@Na9eR_Dashti) September 5, 2016
A user who opposed the campaign’s demands warned, like the mufti, against the harm that could be caused to religion, writing, “Those making these demands don’t differentiate between the law of God and the law created by man that can be changed.”
— جُســورٌ إلى النّـور (@IFROMHEART) September 4, 2016
Waleed, another social media user, criticized women for raising the issue: “A woman was once told, your father died in battle along with your brother and uncle. What did the woman answer? She asked how the prophet was doing. That was the most important thing for her. Today, there are women for whom the most important thing is the cancelling of guardianship.”
قيل لها :قُتِلَ أبوك,وزوجك,وأخوك في المعركة .
فقالت:وما حال رسول الله ؟
كان همها رسول الله ,والآن, بعض النساء ليس لهن هم إلا #اسقاط_الولاية
— وليد الهويمل (@waleed_h_h) September 3, 2016
Many, however, both male and female, expressed support for the campaign. But those in opposition didn’t give up and tweeted their own hashtag: “Dont_Cancel_Guardianship_let_us_hear_your_screamings.” A significant number of men in particular posted using this hashtag.
One of them wrote, “Traveling without a guardian, uncovering a woman’s face, working with men, driving in a car, cancelling male guardianship. These are demands written by Western agendas.”
سفر بلا محرم
هذه المطالب حسب الأجندات الغربية .
— عــضـو هـيـئـة (@KSA_M7TSB) September 4, 2016