A former judge in Saudi Arabia has pledged to assist any woman wishing to sue a controversial preacher who caused deep outrage in Saudi Arabia after he claimed that, if allowed to drive, women would come home late and drunk and would disregard their husbands. Sultan Al Dughailbi, known as Abu Zaqm, made the shocking claims as he addressed young people in the Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2011.
However, the video recording re-emerged on Sunday in Saudi Arabia, sparking renewed outcry. “Abu Zaqm has insulted all Saudi women and he, and people like him, should never be allowed to address public audiences,” Nasr Al Yemeni, the former judge, said.
“In fact, authorities should not allow anyone to address the general public without a prior authorisation. We have a serious problem in our society with people like Abu Zaqm around,” he said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Wednesday.
Religious scholars have also reprimanded Abu Zaqm. “Nobody has the right to use words or expressions to insult or hurt others,” Qais Al Mubarak, a former member of the Senior Scholars Council, said. “People are free to express their views, but without accusing or deriding others. Uttering words that harm others is clearly frowned upon in Islam.”
Unfortunately, some people rush to voice their opinions without thinking, he said. Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) Secretary General Khalid Al Fakhri encouraged women to prosecute Abu Zaqm.
“A woman is a mother, a wife, a sister and a daughter, and rules in Saudi Arabia guarantee their rights and their protection. No one should be allowed to incite against women under the claims of protecting society.” People who abuse women verbally and post the abuse online can be prosecuted under the anti-cybercrime law, he added.
In the video clip, a cynical Abu Zaqm derided women. “If allowed to drive, a woman will come home late while her husband will be up, just waiting for her. She will be most probably drunk,” he said, trailing his remarks with a sarcastic laughter. “If the husband asks her to prepare something to eat, she will argue with him and when she eventually does it, she will end up hosting him in their neighbour’s home,” he added in his imagined scenario.
Liberals in the country are pushing for a more open society, less holden to conservative and hardline traditions. The preacher claimed such situations would be a major feature of ‘liberal society’.