Last Update 12:26
Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Saudi cleric's wife shows face on TV, sparking uproar

AFP , Tuesday 16 Dec 2014
Ghamdi & wife
Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdy and his Wife at Badria al-Bishr's television programe, Dec. 13, 2014 (Photo taken from YouTube video)
Views: 1874
Views: 1874

A Saudi cleric has sparked uproar by appearing on television along with his wife -- whose face was uncovered in an open challenge to strict tradition in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamedi, who has said covering the face is not a must for women under Islam, sat alongside his wife Jawaher bint Ali as she spoke to Dubai-based Saudi MBC television, in a programme broadcast at the weekend.

Saudi women rarely show their faces in public.

Sporting trendy sunglasses, light makeup and varnished nails, but also wearing the traditional black abaya cloak, Ghamedi's spouse spoke of the problems their children have at school because of their father's controversial fatwas or edicts.

"Our children complain that some teachers tell them: why does your father say this and that?" she said of fatwas that have enraged zealots in the desert kingdom.

Ghamedi, who once headed the notorious religious police in the western city of Mecca, home to Islam's holiest shrine, has openly challenged the tradition that imposes niqab or face veil on women.

He has also said that wearing makeup is permissible.

"The Prophet did not order women to cover their faces. Wearing make up is allowed," he told Badria al-Bishr, female host of the television programme.

"Happy now? Every mobile phone now has a picture of your wife, you cuckold," said one outraged post on Twitter.

Like other posts, it used a picture of the couple -- but with the wife's face blurred.

Saudi Arabia's mufti or religious leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh criticised Ghamedi on Saudi news website Sabq, urging him to repent and praying that "Allah will guide Ghamedi to the right path".

But Ghamedi supporters also took to social media.

"They insult him for showing his wife's face... but they shut up when it's Alwaleed (bin Talal)," tweeted Ahmed Rasan, posting a picture of the Saudi billionaire prince next to his fashionably dressed wife.

Saudi women are required to cover themselves from head to toe when outside the home, and still need permission from a male guardian to work and marry.

Saudi Arabia is also the world's only country which does not allow women to drive, and those who challenge the ban risk arrest.

On December 9, rights group Amnesty International said authorities have extended the detention of two women's rights activists, one of whom tried to drive into the kingdom.

The interior ministry has still not commented on the case of Loujain Hathloul and Maysaa Alamoudi.

Border officers stopped Hathloul when she tried to drive from neighbouring United Arab Emirates into Saudi Arabia on November 30.

Alamoudi, a UAE-based Saudi journalist, later arrived to support her.

Both were arrested and are being held in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

17-12-2014 03:26am
May Allah bless this Sheikh
A truly courageous man. He spoke the truth and such opposition.Just look at the language used by those opposing this man. He and his wife are abused with such expletives one wonders if their opponents have any iota of Islam in their heart. Niqab is an invention by extreme saudi salafis and has nothing to do with islam.There are hundreds of incidents in Hadith where Women during Prophet's time freely moved in the society with these face veils
Comment's Title

16-12-2014 09:00pm
If anyone should cover their face.
It's the " Sheikh".
Comment's Title

16-12-2014 05:06pm
Slowly slowly sheikh wife bscome lady dayana .dont worry .sheikh giving her full permission sa she like she can do ..must weare pent and shurts ...haaaaaaaa .sheikh must go underground
Comment's Title

© 2010 Ahram Online.