Saudi preacher, Ahmed Bin Saad Al Qarni
Saudi preacher, Ahmed Bin Saad Al Qarni Source: Twitter/ahmad_s_algarni

Late on Wednesday, controversial Saudi preacher, Ahmed Bin Saad Al Qarni sparked outrage on Twitter after he shared a thread of offensive tweets basically stating that "women instigate men to rape and assault them."

The offensive remarks came in tweets that saw Al Qarni comment on a video of Saudi women getting into a car with men. 

The so-called preacher, who claims to be a member of Amnesty International, wrote: "Yes, women are the cause of adultery and sexual harassment."

"Look at the woman in this video, she made the men go mad. Don't blame men," he added.  

Al Qarni started his offensive rant with this tweet

In his first tweet, the preacher shared the video he was commenting on, captioning it:

"If he rapes her, she'll come home crying over her dignity. I swear to God, women are the cause of harassment and adultery. Look at the woman in this video, she's the one who stopped the man driving the vehicle, and she's the one who got into the car with him."

But that wasn't all he had to say...

Al Qarni's attack on women didn't stop there, in a second tweet, he wrote: 

"A woman who leaves her house wearing make-up and perfume is an adulteress. A good woman who's wearing a kitchen apron will never leave her house looking like that." 

"Don't blame men"

Outrage over the statements

While a few of Al Qarni's 66,000 Twitter followers seemed to accept his statements, many others were rightfully outraged by his rhetoric. 

One tweep reported the preacher to authorities on Twitter

"Report to authorities... this vile man is calling on men to harass women."

"This rhetoric must end now"

Speaking to StepFeed, Sarah, a Saudi educator and women's rights activist responded to the preacher's remarks: 

"I am not just responding to this man's statements, but to the rhetoric behind them. It's a rhetoric which has unfortunately been normalized in so many Saudi cities. If I tell you how many people believe that female victims of sexual harassment are the ones to blame for what they experience, you'd be shocked," she said. 

"For anything to change, we must stand up to people who share statements similar to Al Qarni's, we can't be silent in the face of this offensive ideology. This rhetoric must end now," she added.  

He needs to be held accountable over these statements

Reema, a graduate Saudi student outraged by Al Qarni's statements also spoke to StepFeed. 

"His statements can't even be called regressive, because that would imply that at some point in time, it was OK for people to believe that they were true. Regardless of the day and age, these remarks are just flat out false and unacceptable," she said. 

"This man calls himself a preacher and look at what he's 'preaching.' It's dangerous that people who are heard in our societies spread this kind of ideology," she added. 

In her statement to StepFeed, Reema went on to add: 

"He has no idea what we, as Saudi women, go through on a daily basis. He must know that women wearing the hijab, abaya and even the niqab are harassed every single day. We'll say it a thousand times, a million times until they understand it: Sexual harassment has nothing to do with the victim. It has nothing to do with what we wear, how we behave, what we say."

"I believe in freedom of expression but not here, not with such bigoted statements. This man needs to either retract his words or be held accountable for them," she stressed. 

Saudi Arabia set to criminalize sexual harassment

Earlier last month, King Salman issued a royal decree calling upon the kingdom's interior minister to draft a law that criminalizes sexual harassment and enforces penalties on perpetrators.

A copy of the decree, which circulated online at the time, read

"Considering the dangers sexual harassment poses and its negative impact on the individual, the family and society, along with its contradiction of Islamic principles, our customs and traditions [...], the ministry shall prepare a draft law to tackle sexual harassment."

The decree also went on to note the "importance of passing a law that criminalizes it [sexual harassment] and outlines the necessary penalties that categorically prohibit such acts and deter anyone who feels tempted to commit them."

The latest move comes at a time when women in the conservative kingdom face high rates of sexual harassment.

According to a 2014 study, nearly 80% of women aged 18 to 48 said they have experienced sexual harassment in the country. 

The Institute for International Research, a Canadian institute specialized in research and field studies, found that Saudi Arabia witnessed an 11.4% increase in sexual harassment rates in 2016, compared to 2014.