Saudi Cleric’s Order: Babies Must Wear Burkas

Women must wear a burka in public in Saudi Arabia.

Women must wear a burka in public in Saudi Arabia.

There is controversy brewing in Saudi Arabia over the burka, the traditional veil that covers a woman’s face and body. Sheikh Abdullah Daoud made the comments in an interview on the Islamic TV network  Al-Majid TV six months ago, but the video has since gone viral.

In the interview, the cleric issued a religious edict, or fatwa, ordering all female babies to wear the burka. Sharia Law typically reserves the burka for post-pubescent girls. The reason for this fatwa? To discourage molestation from men.

Now before you go thinking that Saudis all fall in line like mindless sheep, this fatwa has generated a huge amount of pushback and controversy:

The fatwa has prompted wide condemnation from Saudis on the Twitter micro social networking website, who say the ruling “denigrates Islam and breaches individual privacy,” according to the report.

A former judge at the Saudi Board of Grievances since attempted to undo the damage to Islam’s image by telling the news outlet that he too believes the ruling is denigrating to Islam and Shari’a, and makes Islam “look bad.”

Sheikh Mohammad Al-Jzlana has urged Muslims to “ignore unregulated fatwas” and said special regulations are “set by Saudi authorities to administer religious edicts and appoint those who are entitled to issue them.”

Obviously this is ridiculous and people in Saudi Arabia are right to be outraged. They may have missed the key irony here, however. The reason for the baby burkas was to protect them from the sexual appetites of men. That is the same reason women are forced to wear the burka. In it they go far beyond a “blame the victim” mindset. It in fact punishes the victim. Half the population is victimized because of bronze age ideas that have more than run their course.

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3 Responses to Saudi Cleric’s Order: Babies Must Wear Burkas

  1. Gina amos says:

    How about promoting a non-rape/non-molestation culture? If that’s what Saudi clerics are worried about…target the problem at its source…

  2. The irony here is incomprehensible. In effect, Sheikh Abdullah Daoud’s fatwa is accusing Saudi men (or is it all men?) of being baby molesters! The irrationality of such a charge is palpable. I respect everyone’s right to their own beliefs, but this is why religion is so frightening to me.

    • I agree. I have borrowed a page from Christianity’s “Hate the sin and love the sinner,” and created the mantra: “Respect the person, but not necessarily their beliefs” in order to wrap my head around how to look at these bizarre situations.

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