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.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Princes discuss Women's Rights 

Our King and our Minister of the Interior, Abdullah and Naif, have now got over their laughing fit, and have settled down to enjoy a sheesha pipe together. Amid the bubbling sounds, Naif suddenly remembers something...

N Talking about uppity women, you remember that newswoman?

A Yes, what's-her-name?

N Rania Al Baz. I've stopped her getting an Exit Visa, so she can't leave the country.

A Well, women shouldn't travel, ever. But why mention her?

N I don't know if you remember the full story. It started with Saud Al Faisal (Foreign Minister). He'd been to a dinner at some embassy where they'd been giving him a hard time about Women's Rights here. He'd probably been eating bits of cold fish and pickle with the Norwegians. No wonder he looked miserable. Anyway he came over to me and said, "Saudi Arabia's record on Women's Rights - (and Naif does that quotes thing with his fingers again) - doesn't play well in the West". Well of course, I was tempted to do my "You're confusing me with someone who gives a f*ck" routine, but, what the heck, I'd been to an amputation that afternoon, so I was feeling in a good mood. So I said I'd see what I could do.
And then, next week, what an absolute stroke of fortune! The husband of Rania Al Baz, famous Saudi news anchor, beats the hell out of her. She looks like she's just gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson.

It was our ideal opportunity. I got all the papers to run the story, I said they could report it on just this one occasion, but not to get carried away. We also got it placed in the press abroad. Storyline - Saudi Arabia is now becoming sensitive to Women's issues, we are bravely exposing abuse of women, now becoming a caring society, blah blah blah. And of course all the foreign papers lapped it up, - New spirit of openness in Saudi society, blah, blah, blah. Saud Al Faisal loved it, and went round all the embassies getting feted. It lasted for about a month. Meanwhile of course, nothing happened to the husband, he'd just been correcting her, as the Quran says we should, he just went at it a bit hard, that's all.

The problem is, it's all gone to her head. She doesn't realise that she's served her purpose, she's last year's news, she's History. She thinks she's some sort of celebrity. And now she's written a book, and wants to go to Paris, to a conference, to promote it. Well, I wasn't having that. She doesn't have her husband's permission to leave the country, so of course she needs a special Exit Visa, and I've just blocked that.

A Quite right. What a wonderful system, exit visas for women. But the papers aren't carrying the story?

N Not the Saudi ones of course, they know that bit of reporting freedom was a one-off, you won't see it published here. It's in one or two foreign papers, like the article in the Khaleej Times, minor circulation stuff, nothing to worry about.

A Well, if you hadn't stopped it there, who knows where it would have ended? She'd want to go on to the Letterman show in the US, all those other Jewish TV stations. She might have ended up like that Sheehan woman, camped outside my palace.

N Yes, don't they call that woman the "Bitch in the Ditch"? How about Rania Al Baz, the "Oddie in the Wadi"? (They both snigger). Thing is, though, she'd have to camp in full abaya and veil, she'd look just like one of those Somali begger women you see outside the mosque in Madinah, selling boxes of hankie tissues, nobody would know the difference.

A That's true. Changing the subject, though, and talking about tissues, one thing has always puzzled me. We must have the highest consumption of hankie tissues in the world. Little boys seem to sell them at every traffic lights. So why does everyone still gob onto the sidewalk?

N Yes, it is odd. But at least we're accurate. Imagine if we let women spit, it'd go all over the place. That must be why we invented the veil!

Increased bubbling sounds, as the pair chuckle thru their sheesha pipe.

(Thanks to Condo for the link).

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