The war on women being waged by Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist clerical institutions continues briskly. This is not news, of course; I’ve blogged on it before.

This war has continued in spite of some “reforms” by the Saudi monarchy meant to rein in the furious reactionary tendencies of Wahhabists. (For what it’s worth, those “reforms” haven’t worked, precisely because they are not truly “reforms” … they’re just window-dressing and gesturing, intended to placate westerners.)

The AP (via Yahoo News) reports on the latest salvo:

A Saudi judge told a conference on domestic violence that a man has the right to slap a wife who spends money wastefully and said women were as much to blame as men for increased spousal abuse, a Saudi newspaper reported.

The remarks do not carry the weight of law, as they were made out of court. But such public pronouncements by Saudi judges — who are also Islamic clerics — are often widely respected. …

The comments at a recent conference were given as part of an explanation for an increase in domestic violence in the country. The judge said women were equally responsible for the increase, the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Naturally, the article included as a caveat, the usual objections that Islam actually respects women and that mistreatment of women is prohibited:

Sohaila Zenelabideen Hammad, spokeswoman of the Saudi National Center for Human Rights, told the Associated Press on Monday that the judge’s remarks are reason for concern for being “too extreme.”

“It is not acceptable, it is even forbidden in Islam to beat a woman on her face. … No matter what the woman does, the man has no right whatsoever and under any circumstances to beat his wife on the face,” said Hammad, who was not at the conference.

Normally this is where such articles end. But this one did not. It continued to quote Hammad:

“Regrettably, there is a common understanding in the Arab and Islamic world that man is the master who looks down on the woman and has the right to do whatever he wants to her. This is wrong,” Hammad said.

There it is, folks. A tacit admission that many Muslim cultures do not actually live up to the precepts of Islam. In any event, it is ludicrous to say that the Wahhabist clerics who rule Saudi Arabia — alongside its monarchy — “respects” women by, among other things, forbidding them to drive, to go out without their husband’s or father’s permission, etc. That isn’t “respect.” It’s gender-based enslavement. Pure and simple.

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