A video of Saudi psychologist Dr. Tariq Al Habib saying that masturbation is a basic human need has gone completely viral on Saudi Twitter.
Al Habib made the statement during an appearance on Thursday's episode of Rotana Khalijiya's Ya Hala TV program.
While he did mention that it's considered haram (unacceptable) in Islam, except for when a person resorts to it in a bid to avoid committing adultery or sin, he also called on Islamic scholars to re-consider the matter.
"Masturbation is prohibited except for when a person is in dire need for it. When we say 'dire need' here, we're talking about preventing oneself from committing sin. However, I say to our Muslim scholars, if a person won't be committing a sin, but will be suffering from stress or anxiety if they don't vent out and release this energy from their bodies, wouldn't the habit be considered a dire need then?," he said.
"I see masturbation as a basic human need, it's just like the need to defecate, or the need to eat and drink," he added.
Al Habib's comments shocked the show's presenter who responded saying:
"Allow me to say that what you just said goes beyond being a controversial opinion, it's just shocking."
What can explain this shock and also the meltdown that later ensued on social media in reaction to the statement, is the fact that it's rare for someone to speak out about masturbation in Saudi Arabia.
The subject isn't only considered taboo in the ultra-conservative kingdom though, but also in countries across the Arab world.
Even though in recent years, academics, psychologists, and journalists have been highlighting masturbation and self pleasure more often, using scientific research to back up their arguments, Al Habib's comments still sent tweeps into a frenzy.
Here's how it all played out on Twitter:
A few seemed to react to the statement with sarcasm
Others were left shocked
"Shock of my life."
"La illah ila Allah"
Many were outraged at Al Habib's comments
"We hope the government holds him accountable over these comments. How could he compare something so disgusting to eating?"
Others thought there was a conspiracy behind it all
"He wants people to get sick so he'll benefit when they go get treatment at his clinic."
A few had quite confusing points of view
"There's nothing wrong with what he's saying, the problem is that he's making this statement in public and that's wrong."
Not everyone was against Al Habib's statement though
"It's like young men and women will wait for research on the negative aspects of this habit... you've oppressed them in every other way, you also want to interfere with their private life."
Many stood by it...
"I agree with what he said. As a doctor myself, I recommend this to unmarried individuals on condition they don't over do it."