Saudi sheikh calls for female babies to wear burkas

Count on Saudi Arabia to always do something provocative when it comes to women's rights. Photo: Burka/ AP

CHARLOTTE, February 14, 2013 – In an interview on Islamic al-Maid TV, Saudi Arabian cleric, Sheikh Abdullah Daoud, has issued an unofficial fatwa (religious edict) calling for all female babies to have their faces covered with a burka in order to prevent them from being sexually assaulted.

Though the interview may be as much as a year old, it has been picked up by Al Arabiya news and social networking sites and immediately cited outrage that such beliefs are damaging to the image of Islam and Saudi Arabia.

Though official fatwas can only be issued by Saudi authorities, the sheikh’s statement prompted widespread condemnation on Twitter throughout Saudi Arabia. Many of the tweets claimed that Dauod was denigrating Islam and infringing upon individual privacy.

Appearing in a follow-up to the story on Al-Arabiya, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Jziana, a former judge for the Saudi Board of Grievances, stated that Daoud was making a mockery of Islam by painting the wrong image of the religion.

Al-Jziana went on to advise Saudis to disregard the edict because it is an unregulated demand. Al-Jziana says he is saddened when he sees a newborn child in the street wearing a veil. Forcing a baby girl to cover her face with a burka is an injustice to children according to the former judge.

Daoud based his fatwa upon information from unnamed medical authorities and security officials who claim there have been sexual attacks on babies in Saudi Arabia.

Despite Al-Jziana’s arguments against Daoud’s edict, he, too, has received criticism for failing to address the increasing problem of child molestation taking place in the country. Recent studies have shown that the rate of children in the Kingdom who suffer from rape and/or sexual violence at the hand relatives comes at the shocking rate of approximately 70%.

A gynecologist at the King Saud Medical Complex, Muna Al-Awad, reports that even married women are victims of sexual violence from their husbands while unmarried women often experience similar attacks by their brothers.

Discrimination and harassment of women is common in Saudi Arabia where many of their basic rights are denied. Saudi society teaches men from infancy that women are their property and males are allowed to do with them as they please.

Such restrictions for women include not being able to drive and being forced to have a male family member accompany her when she appears outdoors in public. In some cases a woman’s guardian can be her own son.

While such examples are a controversial problem of contemporary Saudi life, they are not without precedent in the religion. Though the Prophet Muhammad was marred to Aisha when she was seven years old, he consummated the marriage when she was nine.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education recently began a social awareness campaign about sexual violence against children at the Women’s Health Sciences College in Riyadh. Among the opinions resulting from the conference were the imposition and enforcement of strict government penalties and punishment for sexual violence, educating women in self-defense and allowing easier access for women to authorities when filing a complaint.

Though Sheikh Daoud is not a senior sheikh, nor is he affiliated with the government, his comments have become a lightning rod of controversy throughout the Kingdom.

Strangely enough, much like the YouTube video that set off a firestorm last summer throughout the Middle East, Daoud’s comments were made public months ago and only now are gaining widespread attention.

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Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.





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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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