Saudi sheikh: Women can log in online without 'guardian'

Ahram Online, Sunday 16 Sep 2012

Saudi sheikh distances himself from fatwa obliging women to be accompanied while surfing the net, saying women are capable of distinguishing right from wrong

Saudi sheikh
Saudi women in a library in the Kingdom (Photo: Reuters)

A Saudi scholar has played down an Islamic fatwa (ruling) that forbids women from logging in online without an escort.

“The law for internet usage for men and women should be the same, even if the internet has useful and harmful websites,” said Sheikh Mohamed El-Aly, professor of Islamic law at Imam Mohamed Ben Saud University to Al-Youm Online, a Saudi news website, Sunday.

According to Islamic law, women are not allowed to travel without a male escort who is either her husband or a close relative she couldn't marry, including uncles, father-in-law and adult nieces.

In 2010, Sheikh Saad El-Ghamdi issued a fatwa banning women from logging in online without a chaperon sitting at her side.

“Women are similar to other beings, yet they are weak and emotional, which drags them towards what is against God’s rule ... The internet is full with tempting things that will be very hard for the weak woman to avoid ... Thus an escort who is aware of her weak psyche, which is prone to sex and emotion, is to accompany her while being online,” said Sheikh Saad El-Ghamdi in 2010.

However, Sheikh El-Aly has different views on women. “God blesses the Muslim woman with righteous thinking by which she distinguishes between what is good and bad for her,” he told the Saudi press Sunday.

The 2010 fatwa spread widely on social media sites. Sheikh Saad Ghamadi is a Saudi who graduated from the College of Sharia of the Islamic Imam Mohamed Ben Saud University.

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