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Saudi cleric warns women drivers to watch out for their ovaries

Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan's comments come just as Saudi activists launch a campaign to allow women to drive.

saudi cleric ovariesEnlarge
Saudi men drive their vehicles in front of a mosque on a main street in Riyadh, on September 22, 2013. Saudi women activists have called for a new day of defiance next month of the longstanding ban on women driving in the ultra-conservative kingdom. An online petition entitled 'Oct 26th, driving for women' had on Sunday gathered more than 5,800 signatories, as activists try again to push authorities to end the unique ban. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

Another day, another Saudi cleric says something ludicrous.

This time a 'leading' religious figure has said that driving a car may damage a woman's ovaries, thereby interfering with her purpose on this planet: to make babies.

The words from Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan come just as Saudi activists launch a campaign to allow women to drive.

Organizers have called on women to sign a petition and defy the driving ban on Oct. 26. The online petition has attracted several thousand signatures so far, but according to CNN the website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia.

In an interview published last Friday on the website, al-Lohaidan said that women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put "reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions," according to Reuters.

More from GlobalPost: What do you get when you mix comedy with YouTube in Saudi Arabia?

The cleric, who is also a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists, went on to give his medical theories about why women should not drive: "We find that for women who continuously drive cars, their children are born with varying degrees of clinical problems."

He continued: "If a woman drives a car it could have a negative physiological impact... Medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman's ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward."

There is no law against women driving in Saudi Arabia — they are just denied licenses, and driving without one is clearly illegal.

The backlash on social media to the cleric's remarks came swiftly.