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.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

You've got mail.. 

I always appreciate the mail I get. Time usually doesn't allow me to enter into discussions, but I always try and respond with a one-liner. And I've been pointed to some useful sources, please keep them coming.

I always respect the privacy of these personal communications, and would never publicize the detail without agreement. However one person has now emailed me to repeat a comment they left on
an earlier post, which I hadn't spotted. They are so insistent on getting me to respond that I'll do so in public.

Oh, and there's one other reason. They're defending the region of Qassim.

I've been in many parts of the world, and have very few dislikes. Indeed, there are some relatively poor regions, like Sri Lanka or Bangladesh or most parts of Indonesia, where I feel much more comfortable because of the friendliness of the people and the moderateness of the Islam practiced there. But I have to confess thet there is one place that I really dislike, and that is in my own country, the region of Qassim, 200 miles north of Riyadh.

Most countries have a particular region that the rest of the population dislike. I remember when I was studying in the USA, everyone seemed to despise Houston. This was because it seemed to have all the local oil and be charging huge prices for it. When the alien spacecraft in "Independence Day" wanted a city to vaporize, it chose Houston. The cinema I was in, everyone cheered. Would they have done that if it was Washington, or San Francisco, or Seattle?

So it is with me and Qassim. Why? Because it's the Wahabbi heartland. It's where the narrow, mean, vicious, uncaring, uncharitable version of Islam comes from and is propagated thru the rest of the country, not to mention the more gullible parts of the Islamic world generally. And it has the arrogance that goes with believing it is the spiritual center of the religion.

As my correspondent wrote

I left this comment under one of your umm.. "wonderfully researched" posts (August 19 2005):

"Qaseem is not a tribe, it is a city in Najd, Saudi Arabia

I never said anywhere that Qaseem was a tribe. In fact, many tribes live there. Thankfully, not mine. But I'm wondering about this person's "research". Qaseem is not a city. Qaseem is a region, its main city is Buraydah, as this map shows. There is no city of Qaseem.

I'm wondering if you've ever met actual Qaseemis in your life Mr. Al-Hamedi?

I've met many. I've met literally hundreds of men in Riyadh who came from Qaseem. Coming from Qaseem was the smartest thing they ever did in their life. They show no desire to go back. And I never met any who went the other way.

Did you know that Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab is originally from a place called Uyanah, a town not anywhere in Qaseem?

And I'm sure that the good citizens of Uyanah were mightily relieved to see the back of him. Considering that Wahhab did for the religion of Islam, what Pol Pot did for Cambodian tourism, I'm surprised that any place would welcome him. It would have to be somewhere that was completely insular, narrow-minded, self-satisfied, backward, living centuries in the past, treating its women worse that its cattle. Somewhere like....Qaseem. They were made for each other.

Have you ever been there?

Yes, once. Never again. Everyone seemed terminally depressed. Not really my sort of place. If I ever feel the need to be depressed, I can tune into Saudi TV.

I'm guessing your answers to most of the above questions would be no, no and NO! I am from Qaseem, Onaziah, to be exact. As a matter of fact, we go there very often. I don't see any of what you describe. I love undwinding there after long weeks of stress.

Well, I've never seen that place as a relief from stress. And Mrs A and the smaller A's certainly wouldn't. If it comes to a choice, we'd prefer cryogenic freezing.

I will not turn this into a battle of "I love my town, and your ignorance and half-truths are going to anger alot of people" because after glancing through your blog, you seemingly don't give three sh***. I would just like to politely ask you to have more information on what you speak of, so as not to disinform your innocent readers.

Farah, don't take this personally, I'm probably being very unkind. If you'd like to write to me and tell me all the good things about Qaseem, so that all our international readers will be queueing up to get on the plane there, I'll be glad to publish them, in full.

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