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.
On Christmas Eve I took my own advice
and listened to the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge. As always it was superb, the sort of thing the British do to perfection.
However the next day, Christmas day, I have to confess that I dropped my standards considerably. You see, I am also addicted to trash television. And on one channel, our cable supplier was providing "trash heaven". To the despair of Mrs A, but to the delight of myself and the small A's, there was a 7-hour continuous showing of "Dog the Bounty Hunter
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting him, "Dog" is a reformed ex-criminal and born-again Christian, who earns a living by catching pony-tailed and mulleted bail-skippers and other fugitives from justice, and returning them to the appropriate law-enforcement agency. He is assisted by "The Posse" of Beth, Leland, Tim and Duane Lee. Beth, Dog's partner, as you can see, is a very up-front and formidable lady. She reminds me of Dolly Parton on steroids. Just imagine being in the supermarket, and seeing her coming down the aisle towards you, pushing a trolley full of 24-oz T-bones for "the boys"' breakfast. You'd feel like one of those U-boat captains, popping his periscope up only to see a battleship, with two big 15-inch guns, heading straight towards him. Imagine you're both going for the last bottle of household bleach on the shelf - (You plan to wash the kitchen floor, she is going to gargle with it) - you'd hand it to her, smiling sheepishly. Apparently, on one occasion, "Dog" was wrestling with a fugitive's Pit Bull, so Beth had to tackle the "perp" all by herself, which she did; not bad for a woman who was 8 months pregnant at the time!
One of the reasons I convince myself that it's OK for me and the A's to watch "Dog", is that it's an archetypal "Good versus Evil" story, it's all about hunting the Bad Guys and bringing them to justice. I know he looks like a Trailer Park Bad Boy, but he's not gratuitously violent, only when necessary, and once he has got his fugitive, he starts right away to convince them of the error of their ways, to try to reform them. Deep down, of course, I would secretly like to be like him; indeed I would be, if I had tattoos, muscles, and lots of long blonde hair.
"Dog" is also famous for his "Dogisms".Born on a mountain, raised in a cave. Arresting fugitives is all I crave.Gangsta versus bounty hunter: Bounty hunter wins!Twelve men can judge you, or six men can carry you. You decide!
Why am I going on about "Dog"? Well, it struck me that he has put a human face on a profession that used to have a bad reputation. By having a camera team follow him around, and capturing him both in dramatic moments and more intimate personal moments, people now think more kindly of Bounty Hunters. Can we think of another profession that needs its reputation improved?
Here's one newspaper item:Panel Set Up to Probe Harassment of CoupleA special committee was formed to investigate a complaint from a Saudi couple against members of the religious police who allegedly assaulted them, seized property and detained the husband....The Saudi man claims that the undercover officers attacked him and his wife in front of their apartment.
What's the difference between an undercover plain clothes Muttawa with no badge, and a potential mugger?
None, the man quite rightly decided. Unlike "Dog", who always shows his official badge, they didn't identify themselves, and they then started a fight with husband and wife
The victim claims that one of the men grabbed the woman’s abaya as she entered the building in an attempt to pull her out. She managed to call for help from neighbors who pulled her in and pushed the man out.... an official car from the CPVPV ("Religious Police") then arrived at the location and a uniformed officer assaulted the husband before arresting him.
Eventually everyone was freed. Why did the Muttawa go after the couple?
the two undercover officers suspected that the couple was not married.
Now a typical reaction of a newbie in this blog may be "What the hell business is it of theirs?". Remember, this isn't Reality. It's not even Narnia. This is Saudi Arabia, and if you are out with a woman who is not your wife, or a close female relative, then she is by definition a prostitute. And prostitutes are by definition committing adultery, so we stone them to death, although we keep it out of the papers these days. As for the man, he was obviously tempted beyond his limits, so we tell him off before letting him go on his way.
But they "suspected that the couple was not married". Duh! As a married man, "Dog" can tell the difference right away, as can any married people. Simple rules of thumb:
1. Married people walk one behind the other, not side by side.
2. In the shops, a single man will take an interest in what she's buying, a married man will keep looking at his watch and fretting about the football / soccer / rugby / basketball / baseball / cricket game he's missing.
3. In the shops, when she asks "Does this make me look big?", the single man will always give a thoughtful and considered opinion. The married man knows it's safest to say "Yes, fine", although he's not really paying much attention anyway, on account of the game he's missing.
4. The unmarried couple will look with annoyance at the young children running around shrieking and causing general mayhem; to the married couple, they are completely invisible and silent, even though they are the fruit of their very own loins.
So much for those Muttawa. Anyway, the enquiry panel will include
representatives of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice
so it's bound to see The Truth coming out.
Here's another bad one for the reputation of the Muttawa
Saudi beaten up by Virtue Commission members
(where else would you see such a headline?)
Apparently they were after a Saudi, perhaps for missing prayers on a regular basis, but, unlike "Dog", they didn't have a photo and full details in front of them. So they arrested the wrong guy.
Three Commission members belonging to the Usman Bin Affan office in Manfooha area beat him up in public causing injuries to his face Tuesday night, according to a report in Al-Watan Arabic newspaper....The Saudi national, identified by his initials only, was forced into a waiting car and taken to the Commission office....They humiliated me in front of the public and caused bruises and injuries to my right eye.
When they got back to the station, they realized their mistake.
We are sorry, but you are not the man we want. Please accept our apologies for this mistake, the Commission members told him after checking his identity card....Please accept our apology and forget the unintentional mistake. Human beings can make mistakes.
He actually got an apology, a fulsome one at that! We Arabs hardly ever apologize. Our victim should have been suitably delighted at this. But he was strangely ungrateful. He
....is demanding compensation from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice for his wrongful arrest and assault and has sought answers from the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR). Can a person be beaten up in public and arrested without any proof? he wants to know
"Yes" is the simple and obvious answer to that particular question. But don't ask the NSHR, they can't tell their fundamental orifice from a donut. You see, the National Society for Human Rights doesn't exist to solve his problem, it exists to demonstrate to the USA, and the rest of the world, our commitment to human rights. So don't ask it to fight on your behalf, you'll interrupt their pre-snooze cup of coffee. As they say themselves:
The victim should not wait for us till we solve his problem.
Don't worry, the victim won't. But when you do solve it, will you let his great-great-great-grandchildren know?
To get to the end of a very long story, I had this idea for a "Mutt the Muttawa" series ("Mutt" - "Dog" - get it? Actually I didn't, I called him Mo", short for "Mohammad", at first. Thanks to Raging Bee for pointing out the obvious name). Anyway, find a bright articulate Muttawa and follow him around with a camera crew. Perhaps have the equivalent of "Beth"; get an enormously-endowed Saudi lady to sit alongside him in the Explorer. She would have to wear the full abaya and veil of course; she might remind you of those enormous blobs of oil that float up and down in some decorative lamps. And of course, we would need some "Mutt-isms", like:
You don't pray, we put you away!
Born in the desert, raised in a tent. Catching sinners is why I was sent.
Not your wife? There goes her life!
So let's find our bright, articulate, Mutt the Muttawa.
Oh well, some things are just so difficult, you know they are doomed from the start.
Here (thanks to forzaq8 and "American Dad") is an early version of "Mutt the Muttawa" that never made it out of the studio.