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, August 27, 2005

Cricket's over... 

...for the day, time for a few random thoughts.

Australia did very badly in their first innings, so they were made to "follow on", which is like what happens at school when you do a bad essay, you're kept in and made to do it again. They're doing a bit better this time round but probably not enough to change the final outcome.

I put a new picture up in the corner. The last one wasn't "muttawa" enough. "Muttawa", as well as being a noun meaning a Religious Policeman, is also an adjective meaning the same as "pious" or "zealous" in other religions. So this guy is really muttawa. And no, it's not my photo, I'm not nearly that good-looking.

Remember my post earlier this month entitled "Don't Panic"? Basically:

- the panicky Western embassies in Riyadh had closed down because of a terror threat.

- our Interior Ministry, lead by Prince "Nasty" Nayif, said that this was complete nonsense, there is "No Terror Threat";
"Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman said the Kingdom had no solid information of any threat of terrorist attacks inside the country.
We have no confirmed information about any imminent terrorist threat in the Kingdom."

- Then, a few days later, there were raids on terrorist hideouts - "Saleh Al-Oufi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, was killed in a shoot-out with police and security forces in Madinah yesterday. In a coordinated strike, security forces raided premises in both Riyadh and Madinah after locating armed terrorist suspects. In Riyadh, four terrorists died and one was arrested. In Madinah, two died — including Al Oufi — and one was injured."

- And today, the same Interior Ministry, led by the same Nasty Prince, announces that "they had thwarted terrorist attacks, including one in the capital Riyadh, during a series of coordinated operations against Al-Qaeda suspects last week. In all, 41 suspected militants have been taken into custody. Security forces managed to... prevent vile attacks that were imminent, when they targeted militant hideouts in Riyadh, the holy city of Madina and the northern town of Arar on Aug. 18, said an interior ministry statement."

So, just in case you've lost the plot at this point, which is understandable, the Interior Ministry has now thwarted some terrorist attacks that were imminent, and which could even be described as a "terror threat", but this terror threat was nothing to do with the terror threat that the embassies warned about, because Prince Nayif said that their particular terror threat was not a threat. Instead, we're talking about a different terror threat, one that was a real threat, although it's now of course it's no longer a threat. I hope that's clear. If it's not, you weren't paying attention.

I must interview Prince Nayif some day...

Meanwhile, down in Taif, in the bottom left-hand corner of the country, all is not well. The soccer stadium is empty. The grass grows silently. The "Ooh" of the crowd is no more. According to this article in the Saudi Gazette

"When Al-Watan, the Arabic language daily newspaper, reported that a sheikh has issued an edict in Taif alleging that Islam prohibits football, the entire team Al-Rasheed football team deserted the game.
Since then Islamic scholars scrambled to point out that the edict has basis in the Qur an or Sunnah and encouraged many young men to seek extremist activities.
Hussein Al-Talehi, director of Al-Rasheed team, pointed out that the controversial edict given by some of the online scholars brainwashed some of the promising players in the team to the extent that many of them left for Iraq seeking Jihad, Al-Watan reported in later editions."

I can understand why they stopped playing. There they are, in the dressing room at half-time. The score is 4 - 0 against them and they've just spent 45 minutes being kicked all over the park. Then the Manager starts up at them. He's never seen such a poor performance; they mustn't give the other team time on the ball, they need to get stuck into them. He's never seen such a bunch of girlies since his wife's Tupperware party. The only reason they're not crying is that their Mascara might run. Carry on like this and he's going to buy eleven Zimmer frames.
He storms out, leaving them with the team Imam. At least he'll say an encouraging prayer, boost their spirits. But no. He says he's been reading the Quran and there is no mention of soccer. In fact soccer was invented by the Kuffar, the infidel, who first played it with a pig's bladder, by men who display their knees. Therefore it is evil, is sinful, is prohibited, and will condemn the players to eternal hellfire, unless they repent.
So much for morale. Talk about rock bottom. The Al-Rasheed team falls apart, and heads off to Iraq to become suicide bombers. Meanwhile the Imam collects a tidy sum from the bookies.

Conversation between two mothers in a Saudi supermarket:

Mother 1: Oh hello, haven't seen you for ages*, how's little Abdullah?

Mother 2: Little Abdullah? He's really big now. He went off to Iraq to be a suicide bomber. And little Mohammad?

Mother 1: Same thing. No longer little either. He also went off to be a suicide bomber in Iraq

Mother 2: There you go. Don't children blow up quickly these days?

* (Ironic greeting exchanged between veiled ladies.)

Continuing to plumb the depths, here's a photo of a Saudi Airlines 747 at prayer time.

(No humans were hurt during the production of this photograph.)

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