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.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Civil War - latest 

More shooting in the heartland of Wahabbism, up in the Qassim area north of Riyadh.

More Terrorists Killed in Gunbattle

BURAIDAH, 21 May 2004 — Four militants and a policeman were killed and one militant and two security men were injured yesterday in a shootout during a raid on a militant hideout in Khudaira, a southern district of Buraidah.

A statement from the Ministry of the Interior said security forces uncovered a group of wanted terror suspects in the Khudaira area.

(Note: A "Rest House" is not somewhere we put our elderly relatives to spend their final days. It's our equivalent of a Pub or Bar, no booze of course, but lots of food, coffee, Sheesha / Hookah / water Pipe smoking, and of course no women. Some even have soccer pitches and swimming pools for the athletic.)

This time the "score" is a bit more respectable, only two out of seven escaped, but even that is two too many. How police can manage to "surround" a house yet allow terrorists to escape thru the cordon remains a continuing mystery, and of course the cynics here say that they were "meant" to escape. It's a good job the cops didn't guard the Iraq border in the first Gulf War; Saddam would have been thru them and sipping Johnny Walker in King Fahad's palace while they were still trying to figure out where to get a cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, some interesting snippets from the Head of Civil Defense (our Fire Service). Now I have much more respect for these guys than for the cops. When there's an emergency, The Civil Defense generally look as though they know exactly what they are doing, unlike the cops who usually stand around bewildered or shout at each other randomly.

Civil Defense Sets Up Rapid Reaction Force

The two things that caught my eye were

Civil Defense helicopters provided crucial assistance in last month’s siege on a mountainous area northeast of Riyadh where a group of terrorists were holed up.

This of course is a reference to the terrorists who were "completely surrounded" some weeks ago. The newspapers then went completely quiet, which meant that the bad guys got away (once more), the editors obviously thought that we all have the attention span of a goldfish and would immediately forget the whole thing. The "crucial assistance" of the helicopters obviously didn't do the job, apart from warning the terrorists of their impending arrival from 10 kilometers away; as you would expect, our cynics say that it was the intention.

Another little gem of a quote:

Al-Tuwajiri denied reports the department was hiring female firefighters. “There is no such plan,” he said. “Women cannot do this kind of work. It is for men only. Our culture and traditions prohibit this because it will lead to mixing between men and women.”

No mealy-mouthed concession to womens' rights there. Sad. In other parts of the world, women do serve in the fire services, as long as they can pass the same physical, for example carrying a male colleague up a ladder. Perhaps, if they had women in the Fire Service, they would have been allowed into that burning Makkah school, and fifteen girls would not have died.

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