A Saudi preacher has been suspended for saying women should not drive because their brains shrink to a quarter of the size of a man’s when they go shopping, state television reported.

Saad al-Hijri was suspended from all religious activity after the speech, which according to the governor of Asir province contained comments “diminishing human value”.

All women are banned from driving in Saudi Arabia, which is the only country in the world with such law. Many women have been jailed for attempting to drive.

Women in the kingdom are subjected to many discriminatory policies, which are widely criticized by independent rights groups across the world.

According to Hijri, women only have half a brain to begin with, but, when they attempt to factor shopping into their feeble minds, that halves again and they “end up with only a quarter”.

“If she goes to the market she loses another half. What is left? A quarter...We demand the traffic department check because she is not suitable to drive and she has only a quarter,” he said.

A footage of the cleric’s speech was circulated online, which provoke many to use the hashtag “Al-Hijri says women have a quarter of a brain” to voice their anger.

“She became pregnant with him, gave birth to him, raised him, spent sleepless nights for him until he grew up and now he calls her a woman with a quarter of a brain. He and his like must be banned from appearing anywhere,” a person tweeted.