A Saudi Arabian writer has advocated the molestation of all working women.
Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood, an author of self-help books like The Joy of Talking, has nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter. And he has called on all of them to sexually molest women employed as cashiers in grocery stores.
Gulf News reports that Dawood's comments, circulated on the social networking Web site under #harass_female_cashiers, are probably meant to force women to stay at home. The Twitter campaign is one of several started by ultra-conservative individuals and organisations, who want the immediate withdrawal of a number of limited-impact social and economic reform measures.
Dawood's comments threaten the slow but steady induction of large numbers of Saudi women into the country's private sector, a number that first began swelling in 2011.
Khalid Ebrahim Al Saqabi, a conservative cleric, supported Dawood's calls and said the government's law against sexual harassment was "only meant to encourage consensual debauchery". He also accused the labour minister of being "concerned with finding jobs for women instead of men".
Meanwhile, Dawood justified his call to harass women by reciting the old folk story of a famous warrior - Al Zubair - who did not want his wife to leave home to pray in the mosque. And to prevent her from doing so, one night Zubair hid in the dark and molested her as she walked past. The terrified wife ran home and never stepped out again. She apparently realised "there is no safer place than home and the world out there is corrupt".
The Gulf News report adds that Dawood's followers have vociferously supported his statements. And amid the rush to hire more native workers, particularly women, the proposed anti-harassment law has drawn further flak.
One Twitter user wrote: "It is a man-made law and it can't be accepted in a kingdom ruled by God's law. They had better ban mingling of the sexes, not protect it."
There are still voices from within the country that support an egalitarian, at least so far as gender goes, Saudi Arabian state. Another writer, Waleed Al Khawaji, tweeted: "What kind of person urges the youth to commit debauchery?"
And some others chose to vent their disapproval in more forceful tones.
"You are a f*****g disgrace to mankind, Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood, I hope you die a slow and painful death. Hope your wife gets molested," Adil (@adil_khan86) tweeted.
"Why the f**k a misogynist prick like Abdullah Mohamed al-Dawood has not been arrested for inciting violence vs women is beyond me," Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) posted.
"I'm pretty sure there's a special place in Hell for people like him," @moustafachamli wrote.