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Driving while female is a crime in Saudi Arabia, and one religious leader has justified the irrational rule by saying women’s brains shrink when they go shopping.
Saudi Arabian cleric Saad al-Hijri, who is the “head of the religious edicts department in the southern province,” made the comments during a lecture on the “evils of women driving” this week.
According to a translation of his words, women have only half the brain of a man to begin with. But when they’re shopping, it halves yet again, leaving them with only a quarter of a man’s brain.

YouTube video

In a video… 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.”

If that’s a joke, no one in the video seems to be laughing.
For his comments, al-Hijri was suspended from leading any religious tasks for an unspecified amount of time. Saudi Arabia forbids controversial speech that doesn’t “serve the national interest,” and even government officials aren’t immune from that.
In the meantime, he’s being mocked mercilessly on Twitter for his remarks. The BBC reports that “an Arabic hashtag that translates in English to ‘Al-Hijri says women have a quarter of a brain’ was used 119,000 times in 24 hours.”
I’m still trying to make sense of his remarks. Which half of the brain don’t women have? The left half? The right half? Various parts all over? Does he have any idea that the brain doesn’t function when parts of it (much less half of it) are just plain gone?
And what does he think happens when women go shopping? Where does that quarter of their brain go? It doesn’t disappear… so does it just… hide?
And if the myth about how humans only use 10% of their brain is correct, does that mean women who are shopping are only using 2.5% of a man’s brain?
He should’ve included diagrams during his lecture, is all I’m saying.
(Thanks to Scott for the link)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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