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.
As someone who remains devoted to his 3-year-old trusty Nokia 5110, I am not a Bluetooth user myself. However I am delighted to see Bluetooth being used in the continual struggle to evade the Religious Police, in the cafes and restaurants of the Kingdom.
...the men and women flirt and exchange phone numbers, photos and kisses. They elude the mores imposed by the kingdom's puritanical Wahhabi version of Islam — formulated in the 18th century — by using a 21st century device in their mobile phones: the wireless Bluetooth technology that permits users to connect without going through the phone company.
I remember writing a year ago that the Muttawa were fighting a losing battle with the latest generation of mobile phones. They wanted to ban them (of course) but couldn't do so, because you can't buy anything else these days. So the younger generation are exploiting them for all they are worth, and becoming very romantic and poetic in the process.
But connecting by Bluetooth is safe and easy. Users activate the Bluetooth function in their phone and then press the search button to see who else has the feature on within a 30-foot range. They get a list of ID names of anyone in the area — names, mostly in Arabic, often chosen to allure: poster boy, sensitive girl, lion heart, kidnapper of hearts, little princess, prisoner of tears. Some are more suggestive, like "nice to touch" and "Saudi gay club." Users then click on a name to communicate with that person.
Abdullah Muhammad is issuing a challenge that no self-respecting Muttawa could resist...
On a recent warm night, Abdullah Muhammad sat in front of his laptop at a sidewalk cafe waiting for his computer's Bluetooth to pick up nearby users. "I use Bluetooth to meet girls," said the 24-year-old businessman. "The religious police cannot catch me."
Fortunately his name does not give him away, being shared with several million other Muslims. But they won't like the implication that they can't keep up with the technology - after all, they can now work most of the buttons on their Playstation consoles. So they'll be all over these perpetrators like a bad rash. Their problem will be the use of subterfuge. In the physical world, you can normally spot a Muttawa at 200 meters, by his bad complexion, straggly beard and thin hairy legs appearing from the bottom of a short and rather dirty thobe. In the virtual world, more guile will be needed. They'll park their Suburbans outside a suspect restaurant and switch on their Bluetooth devices. Problem is, they won't have enough guile to use fanciful ID's, and may just come up with some personal characteristic. But names like "Mr Acne", "Bad Breath", or "Black Teeth" might give the game away.