The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Reality TV "Spreads Vice" 

...and the Imam of Mecca's Grand Mosque had to watch it for hours and hours before coming to that conclusion.

Saudi imam riles at reality TV shows that "spread vice"

Why do we watch this stuff? Because the alternative, Saudi TV, is so mind-numbingly tedious. Remember the most boring person that you ever met in your whole life. Then imagine that he or she produced TV programs. Then have them presented by people being treated for clinical depression, reading out their own suicide notes. Then take out all the excitement and humor. That's Saudi TV. You'll have more fun in a cryogenic chamber.

Let's see what's on Saudi Channel 1. Ah, it's some Imam explaining an obscure passage in the Quraan. OK, switch to Channel 2. Oh, that's a coincidence, another Imam explaining another obscure passage from the Quraan (and believe me, the Quraan is full of obscure passages). OK, I'll fall asleep for an hour. Wake up. Oh look, there's a soccer match between two third-rate teams, looks like they all just came off life support, and I can count eleven people in the stands. Switch back to Channel 1. Oh good, the News. The Moroccan Foreign Minister has come on a visit. Cut to newsreel of various Moroccan diplomats and Saudi princes all sitting around in big chairs, drinking tea and looking very uncomfortable. Background music is "Oh what a wonderful world" (I kid you not!). This goes on for at least a minute. Cut to announcer. Prince Sultan has arrived back in Riyadh from somewhere. Cut to scene at airport as Prince Sultan steps down from his Saudi Airlines plane ("I think the 747-400 today, Ahmed") and is greeted by at least three dozen royal family parasites and hangers-on. They all approach him and kiss him on the right shoulder. We watch every one. This goes on for at least five minutes. Time for another sleep....

If the Imams were really smart (and don't press me for an opinion on that topic!), then they would counter with a Reality TV show of their own, and beat MBC at its own game. How about "Muttawa!"?

"Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we go out with the brave men of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, as they patrol the mean streets of downtown Riyadh, looking for transgressors of the Saudi Arabia's just and enlightened religious laws." Background music "Sinner, Sinner, what ya' gonna' do, what ya' gonna' do when they come for you?" The scene is the inside of one of their Suburbans. Saeed explains to the camera that he joined the Muttawa because he wants to help people and harass women. The radio crackles. It's Prayer Time, and people have been spotted still eating in the Fanily Section of the Food Court in the Kingdom Shopping Center. A squeal of tyres and they're off. A minute later and they arrive. More squealing of tyres and black smoke. They're out of the Suburban and up the ramp like Starsky and Hutch, vault the stairs, past MacDonalds and into the screened-off Family Section. Right enough, it's full of families eating burgers and shawarmas. "Salaah, Salaah!" (Prayertime) they screech, waving their silly little sticks around. All the men slope off to the Prayer Room, all the women cover their faces (try eating a sdhawarma through a veil!), all the children cry. Another victory for Allah! They "Hi-five" each other and swagger out. Young boys watch them enviously - "When I grow up I want to be a Muttawa". Cue music, "Sinner, Sinner, what ya' gonna' do, what ya' gonna' do when they come for you?"

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