Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, the former head of the Mecca chapter of the Saudi Authority for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, recently responded to criticism of his claims that women did not have to wear the veil in public. He said, in a Saudi 4Shebab TV show, which aired on December 19, 2014: "I refuse to accept these empty, fabricated, and false allegations, the sole aim of which is to harm one's good name." For the TV show that provoked the controversy, in which Al-Ghamdi appeared with his unveiled wife, see MEMRI TV clip 4668.
Following are excerpts from the December 19 program:
Interviewer: The Arabs do not recognize [a woman's right to be unveiled in public], and nor do our religious principles or even our tribal principles. According to Arab tribal values, the wife of a free Arab cannot go unveiled in public. I would like to hear your interpretation of this.
Ahmad Al-Ghamdi: I have reservations about your claim that a free Arab would not accept such a thing. This was never forbidden among the Arab tribes, and the people of my tribe are aware of this. I still remember that when I was young, women would leave the home without veil or gloves, and would go about their business, and there was no problem with that. This did not compromise any man's masculinity or piety.
However, Islam was subject to transformation brought upon by the so-called "Islamic awakening" movement, which exerted a lot of pressure and led to change in many traditional concepts, which did not contradict the Islamic religion, but on the contrary. [The Awakening movement] made many people believe that contemporary [values] run counter to Islam and diminish one's masculinity. All this rhetoric is null and void, and does not even merit being mentioned or considered.
Over the phone
Senior Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Nujaimi: He provokes people by appearing with his wife [unveiled on TV]. This is tantamount to saying that veiled women are committing a grave sin. He is promoting an agenda of stripping women of their veils. If you read columns in the Saudi and non-Saudi press, you are aware of the agenda of distracting the Saudi people and the Arab and Islamic nations from the growing influence of Iran, whose lackeys are attacking all around us.
I have not seen any of the journalists who supported Ahmed Al-Ghamdi dealing with the danger posed by the Houthis, with the catastrophe in our region, or with the danger posed by Al-Qaeda or ISIS. They didn't do any of this, but instead, they helped Ahmed Al-Ghamdi. To be honest, they are using Ahmed Al-Ghamdi.
Ahmad Al-Ghamdi: He will be held accountable before Allah for these allegations. I am a Muslim, who attests that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His prophet. I love our religion and defend it, as well as our country, with zeal. I refuse to accept these empty, fabricated, and false allegations, the sole aim of which is to harm one's good name. Who is behind this agenda? I don't know anybody like that or any movement like that. Nobody contacted me. This was my one initiative.