Saudi cleric claims 'women have quarter of a man's brain' (VIDEO)
A Saudi cleric has been banned from preaching after claiming women's brains shrink to the 'quarter the size' of a man's when they go shopping.
Saad al-Hijri was suspended from all religious activity after advising against allowing women to drive in a speech that contained comments 'diminishing human value', according to a spokesman for the governor of Asir province.
Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving, despite ambitious government targets to increase their public role, especially in the workforce.
Women in the kingdom are also bound by law to wear long robes and a headscarf and require the consent of a male guardian for most legal actions.
In a video identifying him as the head of the religious edicts department in the southern province, Hijri asked what the traffic department would do it if it discovered a man with only half a brain.
'Would it give him a license or not? It would not. So how can it give it to a woman when she has only half?' he said.
'If she goes to the market she loses another half. What is left? A quarter... We demand the traffic department check because she is not suitable to drive and she has only a quarter.'
The comments sparked anger on social media, which is hugely popular in the kingdom. Twitter users shared the video, many criticising it and making jokes about his remarks, under the Arabic hashtag ‘Al-Hijri_women_quarter_brain'.
Saudi activist Walid Dhafiri said: 'When a woman becomes a phobia in male societies, do not e surprised to find someone describing her as a '"quarter of a mind"'.
Some users posted pictures of Saudi female scientists and academics in response and questioned Hijri's own intellectual capacities.
The government's modernising reforms, backed by Saudi Arabia's business class, have sparked tensions with influential clerics upon whose support the ruling family relies.