During a TV interview segment, Saudi cleric Abdullah Al Maeyuf stated that adult Muslim women have the right to live independently from their families. His statement stirred angry reactions across social media especially among men, as many users accused him of going "against religious and traditional norms."
#عبدالله_المعيوف— عبدالله الجبير (@skr___16) January 16, 2020
لكل احد يشوف هاذا الشي حريه شخصيه وانفتاح و تطور و وناسه كيفك ! بس لا تجي و تحلل هاذا الشي بمزاجك هاذا الشي حرام وراح يتم حرام وطول عمرنا نعرف ان مكه من يذهب لها بعمره او حج لازم محرم ف بلاش تنشرو اشياء من مخكم و تحللو و تحرمو على كيفكم حسبنا الله ونعم الوكيل!! pic.twitter.com/IiH5vOzk3Y
Translation: "For everyone who thinks it's a matter of personal freedom and open-mindedness, fine that's up to you. But you can't just say it's allowed according to Islam. It's always been forbidden and always will be. We've always known that a woman needs a male-companion so she can go to places as close as Mecca, even for worship reasons. Stop making up stuff like this."
The controversial statement came as an example of basic human rights that both men and women can enjoy in Islam, with the cleric explaining that one of "women's obvious rights" is to choose where they want to live, including living independently in a safe city.
The presenter of the show interrupted the cleric with a follow-up question about cases that include women facing domestic abuse. The cleric responded that there shouldn't necessarily be a specific reason other than women's choice.
كيف يقارن الرجل شديدالقوه بالمرأه الناعمه الضعيفه اتكلم من ناحيه الجسد !!وين عقله حسبي الله عليه ونعم الوكيل فيه— خريجة ١٤٢٦ (@b_f3uf) January 16, 2020
Translation: "How can he compare men who have physical strength with women who are soft and weak? How sane is he?"
As the show ended, angry reactions flooded Twitter with people accusing the cleric of not knowing enough about Islamic laws and Saudi traditions.
Some demanded that he reference an official source to prove that Islam allows women to live independently. Additionally, some people said that his statement is not taking into account the dangers that women might face while living alone.
لو بنته أو أخته تتوقع بيكون له نفس الرأي؟— Ahmad AlTuwaijri (@ahmadaltuwaijri) January 16, 2020
Translation: "Do you think he'd say the same thing if it was his daughter or sister?"
أتمنى منه تأكيد كلامه بأن يبدأ ببيته اولا ويجعل احد بناته نبراس لهذا التوجه حتى يكون طابق قوله فعله على حسب قناعاته وتوجه الذي نطق به— ١٤٠٢ (@awod1982) January 16, 2020
واتحدها ان يفعل ذالك ?
Translation: "I hope he shows us this in action allowing his daughters to leave their house. His words should be matched with actions. I dare him to do it."
وش الفائدة من استضافة مثل هؤلاء في القنوات وعبر الإعلام ؟!— AL zaeamm (@m700545) January 16, 2020
Translation: "Why do they host such people on TV?"
Amidst the many furious reactions, many others expressed their support for the cleric's statement, highlighting cases where his perspective can be helpful and pointing out that no Islamic text has ever been against adult women living alone.
استاذ احمد مافي مرأه تخرج بدون سبب— ع ?? (@_dnn2) January 16, 2020
وبعدين ان خرجت وسكنت لحالها وين المشكله؟
او وين الدليل انه حرام؟
Translation: "No woman leaves her family's house without an actual reason, but if she did, what's wrong with that? Where does Islam say it's not allowed?"
بلا استهبال واذا صارت ببيت لحالها وين المشكلة لاتخلي تفكيرك محدود بعضهم مطلقات واهلها حاشرينها هي وعيالها بغرفه حتى لو عندها قدرة ماليه تستقل مانعينها ف القرار ذا حلو اصلا المفروض من زمان— jawahr (@jawahr08076623) January 16, 2020
Translation: "What's wrong with a woman living alone in her own house? Don't be closed-minded, many divorced women are stuck in their parents' houses with their kids even when they can afford to live on their own. This discussion is long overdue."
ليتك اخوي أو أبوي ?— HSH (@neehaa2019) January 15, 2020
Translation: "I wish you were my brother or my father."
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has witnessed several major social reforms especially when it comes to women's rights, most notably the 2018 government's decision to lift a ban on women's driving, in addition to loosening rules regarding women's strict dress code.
Still, many rights groups say that genuine gender reform in the Kingdom is still lacking.
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