Women of Islam 'exempt from wearing veils in France'
The comments, by Islamic jurisprudence scholar Mohamed al-Nujaimi and author and cleric Ayed al-Garni, come two weeks after French MPs passed a bill under which women could be fined for appearing in public with the all-covering burqa or the niqab, which leaves only the eyes exposed.
"For a woman who permanently resides in France or is a French citizen, if there is harm in wearing the veil, it is permitted that she shows her face when necessity demands it," Nujaimi said.
Muslim scholars are divided over the veil, disagreeing on whether and how much of a woman's face should be covered. Saudi clerics widely recommend it.
The kingdom is ruled by the House of Saud in alliance with clerics from the austere Wahhabi school of Islam who oversee mosques, the judiciary and education and run their own coercive apparatus, the morals police.
Nujaimi and Garni are not members of the kingdom's official Senior Scholars Authority, which has not commented on the French parliament's decision.
Tourism to Western countries such as France, while not forbidden, should be avoided in favour of Muslim countries where veils are allowed, the clerics said.
Every summer, tens of thousands of Saudi holidaymakers leave the kingdom and its searing heat to spend their vacation abroad, with many travelling to European countries.
"Tourism in a non-Muslim country is not indispensable, it is not needed, it is however allowed ... but we have a lot of touristic regions in our country and there are a lot of Muslim countries that do not ban the niqab," Nujaimi said.