A Saudi cleric who called for baby girls to wear burkas for their own safety has been subjected to a barrage of criticism on social media. The preacher’s remarks have been widely condemned for denigrating Islam, and as a breach of privacy.
Sheikh Abdullah Daoud made the remarks during an interview with Islamic Al-Majd TV last year, but video of the interview recently went viral on social media sites and became a topic of widespread debate and derision.
Daoud claimed that baby girls would be protected from abuse if they wore a full burka, and justified his statement by citing unfounded medical reports of the sexual molestation of babies in Saudi Arabia.
According to Islamic law, girls are not required to wear burkas until they reach puberty.
Many Twitter users have called for the cleric to be held accountable for his statement:“Burkas for babies is disturbing! Now the baby victims are blamed for men’s crimes. Allah help us stop the ignorance,” one user wrote. “Why stop with baby girls. Let’s cover everything in a burka to protect the world from sexual abuse by men,” Twitter user Celeste Klose joked. Sheikh Mohammad Al-Jzlana, a former judge for the Saudi Board of Grievances, spoke with Al Arabiya and condemned Daoud’s statement as a mockery of Islam, and harmful to the religion’s image.
He also appealed to Saudis not to pay attention to unofficial fatwas (religious edicts), and emphasized that such rulings can only be issued by Saudi authorities.