A Twitter post ignited a battle of arguments over a post tweeted by a Saudi cleric describing the newly-introduced waitress at a fast-food restaurant in Saudi Arabia as “prostitutes”.
The debated topic sparked when Saudi Sheikh Ali Al Mutairi reacted to a number of Saudi tweets calling for the boycott of popular American fast-food restaurant, Hardee’s.
The burger chain had recently allowed women – for the first time – to work as waitresses at their branches across the coastal city of Jeddah.
“At the beginning of her shift she’s a waitress. When her shift ends she becomes a prostitute. The more she’s around men the easier it becomes to get closer to her”, tweeted Al-Mutairi, whose twitter account (@4aalmutairi ) boasts more than 5,000 followers.
Despite this cleric’s views reflecting an existing frustration amongst some conservative segments in Saudi Arabia which oppose women’s right to work and fear that allowing females to mix with men may lead to unwanted social behaviours, Mutari’s rather controversial tweet was deemed too extreme to many Saudis on Twitter.
“Prostitution is not in working trying to survive but it is in corrupted minds that use religion to distort other’s reputation,” posted one male in response to Mutar’s tweet.
“Prostitute? So any female employee in my country is a whore now?” wrote a female tweep by the handle of @Sulafa_97.
Many commented by telling Sheikh Al Mutairi that through doubting the morality of ‘chaste’ women and describing them in the way he did, the cleric would be committing a serious vice, according to well-known Islamic teachings.
Another tweep posted pictures of some Hardee’s waitresses posted over social media by saying “These women are all covered up that I wouldn’t look at them, plus if your sister goes to that restaurant would you prefer a man or a woman taking her order?”
Despite the reaction to Sheikh Al-Mutairi’s views being mostly critical, there were some supportive tweets like one which says, “We know your intention and we give you the benefit of the doubt; stay as you are, a splinter in the throats of liberals”.
As reactions mounted and a hashtag was created to discuss his tweet, Al-Mutairi replied to many of his critics saying:
“In the name of God, I have seen this hashtag and some are asking to apologise because they think I have defamed Hardee’s waitresses – the truth is I warned from the dangers of sexes mixing, at the beginning she is a waitress and in the end they will want her to become a prostitute and between are the devil’s steps”, tweeted the sheikh.
“As for hypocrites who shave their beards and moustache (a common way of describing liberals in Saudi Arabia), there is no apology for them because their zeal isn’t for God,” he added.
The Saudi Ministry of Labour has been implementing a strategy which aims at creating more job opportunities and workplaces for women. However, segregation of sexes is applied in most public venues across Saudi Arabia.