Category Archives: religious police

Sex and Starbucks in Riyadh: Wahhabi Logic ……..

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Some Arab media report that the Saudi Commission for the Propagation of Vice (the Religious Police/Vice Squad) has issued an order banning women from entering Starbucks cafes. Saudi women who have a hankering for a latte or mocha now have to send their drivers (usually unrelated Asian males) into the shop to purchase what they need. A sign on the window of a Stabucks would read “Please no women allowed entry. Send your driver to get your order“.

So the woman are not allowed entry because there are also men in the cafe, yet the woman is allowed to be “alone” with a driver in a dark and “very private” car or SUV. Saudi women are not allowed to drive cars or ride motorcycles or bicycles or mopeds or skates. And we all know what happens when a Saudi woman in Burqa or Niqab is alone in a dark car or SUV with a male foreign driver. Satan will not be far! According to Wahhabi logic, the Devil will make it a threesome.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Valentine in the Middle East: Swine Flu, Stag Kissing, and Excommunicating Barbie…….

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They report that a Lebanese minister has advised the people of his country this week to reduce the amount of kissing on Valentine’s Day this year. Which makes me wonder what type of neighbors does he have: I mean hygiene and not just looks. But he is worried about the spread of “Swine Flu” aka H1N1.
Yet we kiss a lot in the Middle East, in Arab and Muslim countries, much more than they do in the West. And almost always it is kissing in public rather than in private. We probably do more public kissing than the French do French-ing in Paris. Everybody does it, even the Salafis, Wahhabis, Shi’as, Sufis, Sunnis, Haredim, Vegans, Christians, Evangelicals, and possibly Jews (oddly I haven’t seen many native Jews on the Gulf in recent years for some reason). But the difference is that it is not heterosexual kissing, it is same-sex kissing, at least the public part is.

In Iran, there are reports that the police have warned against spreading Valentine’s Day culture in shops. Yes, shops. A warning which a lot of people and most shop owners will typically ignore, as they do every year.

In Saudi Arabia, red color on February 14 can send you straight to hell, even if you are not Shi’a- Safavi- Rafidhi-Jew-Christian-Animist. The Vice Squad (religious cops) are also cracking down on dolls (Barbie, etc) that expose too much plastic than is considered decent by the clerics. Barbie, of course, was famously excommunicated (by Fatwa) by a religious sheikh and professor (or Dean) of Sharia in my own hometown some years ago.

A few years ago in Gaza some vendor painted an ass red (no, I mean a jackass, donkey) on Valentine’s to promote his business. This year Egypt’s Al Sisi wants the Gazans to have a bit more red in their Valentine: he is opening the Rafah pass to the ‘qualified’ Gazans. But only for February 13 and 14, only for Valentine’s. He will close it back shut right after that, but still it is sweet of the Generalissimo.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Propagation of Vice: Saudi Religious Police, the Ten Commandments, and Spying on Women…….

    

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An official within the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice [CPVPV] acknowledged that the organization is having trouble monitoring female-only gatherings, particularly in light of reports that illicit and illegal activities are taking place at such gatherings. The source attributed the CPVPV’s failure to get to the bottom of what is happening at female-only gatherings to the absence of female CPVPV operatives. The CPVPV official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that “we have received unconfirmed reports that behaviour contrary to Islamic Sharia law is taking place at closed female-only gatherings. These reports are unconfirmed due to the absence of female CPVPV operatives who can transfer credible information on this issue.” He added “in addition to this, some people may be providing the CPVPV with inaccurate or false reports.” The CPVPV official stressed that “in this regard, the CPVPV relies on other means [to uncover what is happening at female-only gatherings], including receiving reports from sources close to those taking part in such gatherings, as well as contacting the sites where such gatherings take place.”………….”

The Saudi Commission for the Propagation of Vice is worried that “behavior contrary to Islamic Sharia” may be taking place in gatherings where there are only women in the Kingdom of Segregation. Hence there are hints they might hire women to spy on gatherings of women. Now what kind of immoral behavior can there be in gatherings of women? There are no men at such gatherings, and the Saudi shaikhs probably cringe at the thought that some of them might be lesbians (some of the women not some of their shaikhs). The only “immoral” behavior possible is that they might discuss politics.
Now gatherings of Saudi men are monitored, spied upon, and if necessary banned. The one major weak spot in this police state are women and their gatherings. The hairy perverts of the religious police can’t sneak into women gatherings, not unless they shave their beards (which, by their beliefs, might send them to hell), and don an abaya and a burqa (or niqab), plus some black kohl around their spying Wahhabi eyes.
Hence the idea of  looking into hiring women spies. The official media and semi-official media (like Asharq Alawsat of Prince Salman) are trying to make it seem like a “progressive” step; spying on women at their tea parties.

Speaking of “behavior contrary to Islamic Sharia”, have they tried spying on the princes and potentates? Besides the usual “immoral” behavior, there are a lot of “financial” irregularities that would have them condemned in the days of early Islam. Stealing and corruption are also against Islamic Sharia. Hell, they are even against the Ten Commandments of Moses.
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Saudi Shura Council and Sexual Harassment: Frustrated Males Shopping for Shmagh without Satan……..

    

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The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, also known as the Shura Council, will vote this month on a draft law that will set punishments in cases of sexual harassment. Council member Sadaqa Fadel said the law classifies sexual offenses into categories and assigns particular punishments to each category. Fadel told Saudi al-Eqtisadya newspaper that punishments range from warning flogging and imprisonment. The draft law came after Saudi Arabia, which has strict sex segregation rules, saw growing presence of women in various work places and after single men were allowed into shopping malls. Fadel said there will be monitors in malls and in workplaces to watch for cases of sexual harassment and that monitoring will be conducted in accordance with Shariah law. “Sexual harassment is a criminal offence whose perpetrator must be punished. The people who commit sexual offences are mostly men, but this does not mean that some women do not harass men, and this was taken into consideration in the new regulation,” Fadel said. He added that the new draft law requires employers to separate between men and women……………

This consultative council is an unelected group of men appointed by the Saudi king to pretend that they form some kind of parliament. Last year or so the absolute king issued a fatwa extending the term of the current council until the king decides when to replace them. They pretend that they create legislation and pass bills, but they deal only with select issues suggested by some minions of the king and princes. They usually deal with banal issues like: who can enter a shopping mall between 5 and 8 pm or (possibly) whether the breasts of she-camels (nooq) and she-goats (skhool or ma’iz) should be covered in public (lest they excite and provoke the extremely frustrated male population).
Last week, the Saudi government issued a permit allowing single males (men) to enter shopping malls, but only for the purpose of shopping. Shopping as in for clothes, watches, underwear, shmagh, serwal mkassar, and other inanimate objects. Before that only women, children, and males accompanied by females were allowed into shopping malls. They were worried that the devil, Satan, will get in there and do what the devil usually does when men and women are within fifty meters of each other, according to Wahhabi Salafi doctrine. Apparently Satan has signed a pledge to stay away from the shopping malls during certain curfew hours.
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Funning about the Princes and the Muftis: Obama for Crown Prince or Jordanian Gauleiter……………

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SAUDI ARABIA’s response to the Arab spring might be described as allergic. The tiniest whiff of protest last March prompted the government to outlaw demonstrations. Even as women, in effect, continue to be banned from driving, and dissidents jailed or banned from travelling, a new media law has clamped tighter restrictions on the press. Echoing events in tiny Bahrain, where the ruling family crushed Shia protests, Saudi security forces have responded to rising unrest in their country’s east, among the kingdom’s own 10% Shia minority, with blunt measures, including live gunfire that killed five protesters in recent months. Instead, the immediate beneficiaries of the Arab spring in Saudi Arabia may be a new generation of comedians and artists. They certainly stole the limelight on 19th January, at the opening of “We Need to Talk”.…..…The Economist

I think they need to smile and laugh more than they need to talk. I will believe that Saudi comedy (an oxymoron?) has arrived if they start some joke with “Prince Nayef and the Mufti walked into this bar and…………” or “The Mufti stumbled into a Hussainiyah thinking it was the mosque and…………”
 
More seriously, I am not familiar with Saudi humor. I have known Saudis, mostly in business, but none of them ever cracked a joke within my earshot. Or maybe they did and I didn’t recognize it as a joke. I had thought joking was frowned upon over there: sort of like women driving, laughing in public, smiling in public, dressing different, thinking different from everyone else, thongs, tank-tops, mentioning the words ‘freedom’ or ‘protest’ or ‘Shi’a’, among other things.
Actually once in a shopping mall in Riyadh I tried smiling (in the United States I got used to the nasty habit of smiling at people in public, except in NYC subways). It was close to the noon prayer time, and the shaggy religious cops (Commission for the Propagation of Vice) were waving their (khaizaran) bamboo sticks ominously. They were coming toward me as they scowled at shoppers, hinting that soon all men should be inside a mosque and all women at home awaiting their pleasure. I flashed a smile at the nearest hairy one. His scowl deepened as he got closer. I decided that I had made a mistake and focused on a shop window: unfortunately it was a women’s lingerie shop with an Asian salesman behind the counter. I will write more about that later.
Back to the humor: Yet the Mufti of Saudi Arabia is often smiling in his photos. Shaikh Al Al Shaikh almost smiles as often as Ahmadinejad, and both smile much more than either crown prince Nayef or Ayatollah Khamenei (not that hard). It is possible that Saudi humor is a bit more ‘discernible’ than, say, Jordanian humor. I have never seen or heard any of the latter. I think they ought to openly outlaw humor in both countries: that way everyone, especially visitors, will know where they stand. In some Gulf places like the UAE, it is not illegal to laugh or even smile in public, especially if one is a man. Yet if you look directly at someone they would quickly scowl. Once you look at them, the face loses that ‘neutral’ inexpressive vacant look and a scowling (also vacant) mask covers everything. I suspect it is an attempt at showing some gravitas under scrutiny: it is a common Gulf issue.
I bet Obama could never get elected shaikh of Abu Dhabi or crown prince of Saudi Arabia (or Gauleiter of Jordan): he smiles too much in public.

Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Arabian Peninsula: the Condemned Sorcerer and the Free Prince……….

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A Saudi court sentenced an African man to 15 years in jail and 1,500 lashes with the whip for embezzling money from many people through sorcery. Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrested the unidentified man, in his 50s, following complaints by many of his victims in various cities in the Gulf Kingdom. “They seized him red handed after setting a trap for him in Riyadh…they found talismans, herbs, hair and other items used in his fraudulent activities,” Ajel Arabic language daily said……..

Another poor African entrapped by the Commission for the Propagation of Vice.
He is lucky:
only a few weeks ago they beheaded a fellow magician in public somewhere in the Kingdom without Magic. Normally they sentence sorcerers, witches, and magicians to have their heads chopped off in Saudi Arabia. Surprising hat this one was sentenced to only 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes. If he survives the 1,500 lashes (miracles do happen), then he can keep his head and go to prison. If he lasts 15 years in prison, then he will be out free. Now what is more just than that?

I was puzzled by the light sentence, that he was not having his head chopped off in public, until I read the charges carefully. The key word is “embezzlement”: that is what must have saved him. In country ruled by a kleptocracy, where the potentates get away with looting billions, embezzling a few rials is peanuts. The man may merely have some potential; as a true embezzler he is not there yet. That may explain the ‘mercy’ shown by the Wahhabi judge: fellow embezzlers stick together. Now all he needs is survive the 1,500 lashes and live long enough to taste freedom again. Many years from now, he can be out as free as, say, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan who allegedly received US$ 2 billion in bribes from BAE Systems for a huge weapons deal.
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Saudi King Orders: a Gentler Religious Police, Witchcraft and St. Valentine’s, Chopped Lamb Heads……….

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“A long, long time ago…….. On graduation day
You handed me your book …… I signed this way:

Roses are red, my love……  Violets are blue. 
Sugar is sweet, my love……. But not as sweet as you.


Roses are red, my love…….  Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet, my love……  But luck may
god bless you…..
Bobby Vinton


The newly appointed general president of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said Thursday that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah had ordered him and his fellow colleagues to be lenient when dealing with people and to show good will and respect to them. “The king gave me these clear orders when I went to greet him after my appointment,” he told local daily Al-Eqtisadiah in an interview. Al-Asheikh said King Abdullah advised him to always have a fear of Allah when tackling religious issues concerning the public and to treat citizens and foreigners with respect and leniency………….

So the Wahhabi religious cops (Commission for Protection of Vice) are ordered by the king to be respectful and lenient as they harass people for trying to, or pretending to, have fun. (Actually having fun is very hard in the Kingdom and that is why almost anyone who can do so flies, drives, swims, walks, rides a donkey, or hitches a ride out of the Wahhabi utopia). I am puzzled by this, and I have a few questions:

  • Why do they need an order from the king? Doesn’t the kingdom have rules and laws and by-laws regulating how people are to be treated by the regime and its secret police and enforcers? Like almost every other country outside North Korea?
  • And what about people who talk politics and vanish in the prison cells of the regime? When will the “king’s” mercy touch them? 
  • Does this also mean that people who dabble in sorcery and magic, as well as people who deal with them, will not have their heads chopped off in a public square just before the Friday lunch? 
  • Does this mean the religious cops will not entrap people into offering or buying magic and sorcery with the goal of getting them sentenced to have their heads chopped off in a public square just before the Friday lunch? Just before the spectators head back home for a lunch of lamb and rice? [I don’t think Saudis eat bacha or pacha (boiled spiced sheep’s head) like we do in the Gulf and Iraq and Iran].
  • Is all this, as I suspect, a ploy to open the door for the unthinkable, the legalization of red roses next February? Maybe on this St. Valentine’s Day red roses and heart-shaped balloons will be allowed in the shops. Maybe the religious cops (the Haia) will be encouraged by the king to buy red roses for each other, for their wives, for all their multiple wives, even the very first ones who may be long in the tooth. Anything is possible.

Cheers
mhg



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Saudi High: Spelling Hypocrisy in Arabic (and in Latin)………….

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Statements by a Saudi preacher, Mohamed al-Areefi, about the consumption of alcohol and drugs by international students and his calls that they be subjected to tests at the airport upon returning home stirred much controversy, especially among academics, who rejected what they regarded as a sweeping statement with no scientific basis…….. 
“With all due respect to Areefi, there are no accurate statistics that prove what he is saying,” he told Al Arabiya.
Oud added that Areefi, who posted his statements on his Facebook page and Twitter account, is a man of religion, but he cannot issue judgments on matters related to statistics and medical tests.
“He is not supposed to interfere in drug tests and propose that they be done in airports, since this is not only a medical issue, but also one related to security measures.”…….

This prominent Saudi cleric has proposed that Saudi students be tested for alcohol and drugs upon return, when they land at the airport. The premise is that they consume alcohol and smoke pot while in the West (especially just before flying home?). And I had thought most Saudi students are supposed to get drunk, nay get high, by listening to garbled speeches by the king and senior al-Saud princes. Some of them may get high listening to Wahhabi clerics.
The cleric declined to suggest the same tests for the Saudi princes who fly in and out of the country a lot, at public expense. They are the most likely consumers of banned substances outside the kingdom and inside the kingdom (very likely within the holy cities of Mecca and Madinah). I mean alcohol in Mecca and Madinah  could be deemed almost as bad as pedophilia inside a church. Wooops, your graces, sorry about that.

Cheers
mhg



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Wahhabi Cinema: Blasphemous Performing Arts, a Cerebral Haia………..

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Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow cinemas (movie houses) to open. It goes against the Salafi Wahhbai doctrine of the country to have cinemas or theaters or dances. All types of performing arts and fine are either banned or seriously frowned upon. There is only one type of dancing that is allowed: that is when the al-Saud princes get together and swing plastic Chinese-made swords in the air as they “get down” to it. Then it is okay: they are filmed and photographed. They even once got George W Bush to join them in the ‘Ardha (he looked stiff, but then if it had been Tony Blair he would have looked dead). The Nabati Poets Diwaniyyia also allowed, but these guys don’t dance, although they do some acting. Another exception is the annual al-Janadriya festival which is not very festive.

There was one attempt in 2005 to start by showing only cartoons during holidays and only for children and women (apparently children and women are considered cerebrally equal by the Wahhbais although I know they are both much smarter than the men). More than two years ago (2009) there was another attempt by a prince to start the move toward opening cinemas. He started film screenings in two major towns. Rotana entertainment, a group owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, showed a film of its own production. That attempt was killed by a royal order (I think Prince Nayef issued the order), after the Commission for Promotion of Vice, the religious police (Haia) headed by Nayef, strongly objected.

Now there are new murmurings about Saudi cinema, or rather cinema in Saudi Arabia. In fact there is a Saudi fatwa against cinemas. It would be interesting how the Mufti and his shaikhs change that once they are ordered to do so by the ruling family. What can they say? That the king had a holy vision that it is okay now? That the crown prince dreamed of a conversation with Steven Spielberg or maybe Bugs Bunny that convinced him it is now kosher and halal? Sorry, forget Spielberg: Salafi muftis aren’t supposed o converse with Jewish film-makers, not even in dreams. Bugs Bunny, however, remains kosher, but only for men.
Cheers
mhg



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ANHRI: Saudi Religious Police Celebrate New Year’s, Santa Claus at Large…….

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ANHRI condemns the ongoing severe deterioration of freedoms in Saudi Arabia, as well as the arbitrary detentions of citizens and expatriates. Most recently, the Saudi Morality Police detained an expatriate in Riyadh in the New Year’s Eve as he was walking on a street holding balloons on which it was written “happy new year 2012″. It is forbidden to celebrate this holiday in Saudi Arabia, and thus the Morality Police arrested him and handed him over to the competent authorities for investigation. The balloons have been seized. Severe restraints are imposed on freedoms in Saudi Arabia, as international organizations say that the authorities continue to detain dozens of people without a charge or trial. Torture and other forms of ill-treatment while in custody are widespread. Non-Muslims are still not allowed to practice their rituals publicly. Shiites are continuously suffering from discrimination. Expatriate workers and their families are deprived of their most basic rights. “Saudi Arabia is on top of the list of countries hostile to freedoms which use repression in the name of religion. The policy Saudi Arabia pursues is nothing but a desperate apparatus that will not work out, the same way it did not with other despotic regimes in the Arab world when the winds of change and freedom crossed over them. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia apparently has not learned the lesson” said ANHRI……………

You’d think New Year’s or Christmas are Shi’a (Shiite) religious holidays, the way the Wahhabi Salafi religious police crack down on them. Yet these are the main holidays of the allies of the Saudi princes, the ones with whom they share such cherished (at least by me if not by the current U.S. Congress) American values as freedom and justice and equality. I suspect if
Prince Whatishisface were not a Wahhabi Muslim, he’d be given a standing
ovation in the U.S. Congress for sharing American values. I mean after a
hustler and serial bull-shitter like Bibi Netanyahu was granted the
honor last year, who is left?

That is not all: the baboons have also regularly raided private homes where “the wrong” people celebrate these occasions privately. “Wrong people” means people of little or no means and influence in the Kingdom without Magic (you can get beheaded for having anything to do with magic or maybe even Disney). Yet the religious cops of the Commission for the Propagation of Vice (affectionately called the Haia by the princes) turn a blind eye to “not-so-private” parties by the potentates where alcohol flows like water does outside the Arabian Peninsula, where alcohol is not the only thing flowing freely.

In December, the country’s top Muslim cleric and mufti Shaikh Abdel-Aziz bin Abdullah Al Al Shaikh, aka Al, fatwad that all celebrations of the New Year, birthdays and marriage anniversary are un-Islamic (aka un-Wahhabi). He did not, however, fatwa against observing the King.s anniversary.
Cheers
mhg



m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com