Sheikh Abdullah Daoud
Sheikh Abdullah Daoud

A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called for baby girls to be clad in burqas.

Sheikh Abdullah Daoud made his demand in a television interview and said it would stop child sex abuse in Saudi Arabia. Only girls would wear burqas, he said.

Daoud told al-Majd TV that babies were being abused in the desert kingdom but refused to divulge his sources for the claim.

Senior Islamic officials criticised his fatwas and said it was unregulated and without force.

A former judge at the Saudi Board of Grievances, Sheikh Mohammad al-Jana, said Daoud's call insulted Islam and denigrated sharia law.

Under strict Islamic law, females must don the burqa when they reach puberty.

The "burqas for babies" call has sparked a fierce debate on social media websites.

Twitter user Malaka Elvazgi wrote: "Burkas for babies is disturbing. Now the baby victims are blamed for men's crimes. Allah help us stop the ignorance."

Saudi Arabia has tough laws governing women who are regarded as legally minors without equal status to men. Women are prevented from voting or holding political office and Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which does not issue driving licences to women. It is not possible for a woman to open an bank account or undergo a medical operation without her husband's permission.