A prominent Saudi cleric has sparked outrage by saying that online conversations between men and women are religiously forbidden.

Sheikh Abdullah al-Mutlaq, a member of the Saudi Committee of Senior Scholars, said those who chat online could be on their way to committing a sin.

He explained that communicating online through social networks fell under the forbidden 'khulwa'.

The religious term is used to describe a situation in which a man and a woman find themselves alone in private.


Sheikh al-Mutlaq was said to have made the comments while speaking on a local Saudi radio show, according to Al Arabiya News.

He reportedly warned that 'the devil would be present when women talk to men'.

He urged women not to talk to men- even if the reason behind the communication was to obtain guidance and advice, rather than getting to know each other.

After the comments were made, Saudi nationals took to social media sites to give their view on his controversial comments.

Some users praised the cleric, supporting his view that the act came under the khulwa.

But most users reportedly ridiculed the cleric and his view.

One user allegedly said: 'Why don't they (religious clerics) just ban women all together?'

- UK Daily Mail