Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric has defended a ban on women driving by claiming it would "expose them to evil".

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh said men “obsessed with women” and with "weak spirits" could end up causing female drivers harm and that male relatives would not know their whereabouts.

Although women driving in Saudi Arabia is not against the law, in practice women are unable to obtain driving licences.  Exceptions are occasionally made in rural areas if a woman needs to drive for her family life.

According to The Independent, the grand mufti made his comments on a Saudi television channel.

The kingdom's most senior cleric is well known for his outspoken positions and earlier this year issued a fatwa saying chess was forbidden in Islam as it promoted gambling.

Saudi Araba has made some recent progress on women's rights. Last year women were allowed to vote for the first time.

Allowing women the freedom to drive remains a distant hope.

Last year  Loujain al-Hathloul was jailed for 10 weeks after violating the ban by driving from the United Arab Emirates to the Saudi border.

And in February 2015, Saleh al-Saadoon, a conservative historian, sparked an outcry by saying that women in Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to drive on the grounds that they might get raped if their cars broke down.

Western women drove, he explained, because rape was not such a big deal to them.

Courtesy Telegraph