Saudi Arabia’s Mufti Condemns Calls To Cancel Male Guardianship Over Women

Tehran, IRAN: Islamist Iranian women demonstrate against loose veiling after the weekly Friday prayer in Tehran, 28 April 2006. Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad moved earlier this week to reassure Iranian women fearful of an imminent police crackdown that his government would not use strong-arm tactics to enforce the Islamic dress …

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”


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