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 31, 2005

I've been tagged! 

Yes, I've been tagged. It's a Blogger Thing. When you tag someone, you ask them to answer this list of personal questions. Dotsson tagged me. He thinks I ought to lighten up for a bit. He's probably right.

I may be a bit vague with some of these answers, in case they could help identify me. Apart from that, I'll be as candid as I can. Here goes.


Favorite Color: Dark Green
Favorite Food: Kharoof (A whole lamb carcase on an enormous dish of rice with embedded nuts and raisins. Best eaten with the fingers. Scratch me, you find a Bedu.)
Favorite Month: Ramadan
Favorite Song: My taste is all Western classical. "Fr. Jim" might appreciate this one. The words are by the Catholic Cardinal Newman. The composer is the Catholic Edward Elgar. It's all about a man, called Gerontius, dying and going to Heaven via Catholic purgatory. The whole piece is 2 hrs long, but this is the climactic chorus. When I first saw it in London, with a full orchestra and chorus, I came away feeling completely drained, and it still moves me enormously. It's called "Praise to the Holiest", on Disc 2, Track 14, and is, appropriately, praising God, or Allah, whatever we call Him. Who says the Devil has all the best tunes?
Favorite Movie: "Dr Zhivago" Great book, even better movie.
Favorite Sport: Soccer. I used to be an enthusiastic but unskilled left defender. I once succeeded in sending both winger and ball over the sideline with a sliding tackle, but usually they ran round me. Now I can only watch and dispense invaluable advice from the crowd.
Favorite Season: Saudi Winter
Favorite Day Of the week: Friday in Saudi, Sunday in the UK
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Ben and Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch
Favorite Time of Day: First light

Well, that was OK. Oh, hang on, there are more.


Current Mood: Melancholy (see Last CD)
Current Taste: Cardamom coffee
Current Clothes: Evening wear. Ralph Lauren shirt, Van Heusen chinos (bought very cheap at an outlet mall on last trip to USA). Sandals, no socks (Scratch me, you find a Bedu)
Current Desktop: Mount Rushmore, from another trip to USA
Current Toenail: ???? I presume this question is for those who blog and varnish their toenails at the same time. Personally, I don't. I always wait for the varnish to dry first.
Current Time: Late evening
Current Surroundings: Study / homework room. Surrounded by knick-knacks from home; Dallah (Coffee pot), Sheesha pipe (never smoked), Incense burner (which occasionally burns incense when I can get hold of some)
Current Thoughts: How many more questions?


First Best Friend: Ibrahim
First Kiss: Well, we all remember our first kiss, don't we? I was about four and my family had taken me to see my uncle and his camels in a stockade on the outskirts of the city. One of the camels took an interest in me, and before I knew what was happening, I found this set of teeth and two fleshy lips in my face. I fell back on my bottom, but still the lips advanced on me. I fell all the way back, banging my head on the ground, but still they came, and then a tongue protruded and licked me. Naturally I howled, but thankfully was rescued. It's taken me quite a while to trust camels after that, although I like them now. But imagine using its tongue on a first kiss!
First Screen Name: ?
First Pet: A rabbit. It lived an amazingly long time.
First Piercing: Not an advisable fashion for men in Saudi Arabia.
First Crush: Discretion requires me to preserve the anonymity of the other party. However it wasn't that camel.
First Album: Tchaikovsky. Nutcracker Suite.


Last Cigarette: June 1998
Last Drink: Cardamom coffee
Last Car Ride: Sunday
Last Kiss: When the young A's went to bed
Last Movie Seen: Wallace and Grommit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Completely silly. Great fun.
Last Phone Call: Mother in Riyadh
Last CD Played: Mahler's Fifth Symphony. Jewish composer, converted to Christianity. The 4th movement, Adagietto, can tear your heart out. Hence the Current Mood.


Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Guy/Girl Friends: Never had a date as such. We do things differently.
Have You Ever Broken the Law: In the West, not really. Shariah Law in Saudi? You bet!
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No, although several close encounters with the Muttawa.
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: Not much opportunity in the desert.
Have You Ever Been on TV: No
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: Apart from that camel, no.


Thing You're Wearing: see above.
Thing You've Done Today: Bought flowers for Mrs A. What a mad impulsive fool I am.
Thing You Can Hear Right Now: Late night city noises
Thing You Can't Live Without: Love. Humor. Conversation.
Thing You Do When You're Bored: Switch off Saudi TV.


Work, somewhere for lunch, florist, home.


1. Mrs A. My best friend.
2. Mrs A Senior, i.e. The Matriarch. And telling her everything is not optional, it's mandatory. Within the family, she rules the roost.
3. Mr A Senior, just so he doesn't feel left out


1. Black or White: Let me see. When it's 46 degrees Celsius out there, do I wear my white cotton thobe, or a black polyester abaya? Tricky one, that. I'll have to think about it.

2. Hot or Cold: Hot. But not too hot. Especially in a black abaya.


Read the headline that says "Arabian Republic General Election: Moderates Win"

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Prince Charles, Honorary Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques? 

Now to get myself in some hot water. But do they have hot running water in the Tower of London? Or would I even get that far, without being lynched by irate royalists in Britain? Let's see.

I'll set out my prejudices at the outset. I'm not a monarchist. I don't agree with monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or anywhere else, certainly not in the UK. If there's one thing the UK needs, it's an elected President who can counteract the almost total power of a Prime Minister. And then, looking at the personalities involved, they are a very mixed bunch. I do have a lot of time for the Queen, who does a difficult job with grace and charm. I have a soft spot for Prince Philip, whose grumpy and politically-incorrect outbursts make a refreshing change from official-speak. But then you have Prince Edward and his wife, and Princess Michael of Kent, and Prince Harry in his Nazi uniform. And of course, you have Prince Charles.

I went completely off Prince Charles when his long-term adultery with Camilla was revealed. He should have married her at the outset, and not the unfortunate Diana who would then have to suffer all those overheard phone calls and glances in crowded rooms. The whole business was squalid, and the British people deserved better. He also lacked great judgement, in this world of electronic eavesdropping, to be heard on the "Camillagate" tape with the Worst Chat-up Line in the World. Then of course, there's the way he cosies up to the Saudi royal family. So I'm not a great fan of his.

I was therefore curious when I saw this in today's "Sunday Telegraph".

Prince Charles to plead Islam's cause to Bush

The Prince of Wales will try to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam this week because he thinks the United States has been too intolerant of the religion since September 11.

Now I'm no fan of George W Bush either, but I do believe that he has gone out of his way to reassure moderate Muslims of his motives, particularly within the US. And the US is far more tolerant of its Muslims than Egypt or Indonesia, to take two topical examples, are of their Christians. So what is he on about?

The Prince, who leaves on Tuesday for an eight-day tour of the US, has voiced private concerns over America's "confrontational" approach to Muslim countries and its failure to appreciate Islam's strengths.

Now hang on, that's something different. If people criticize Israel for something it does, that is not to criticize Judaism, only the policy of its government. We can criticize Norway and Japan for their dishonest "scientific whaling", but that's not a criticism of Lutherism or Shinto. So why can't Bush or anyone else criticize Muslim countries, when they are out of line? After all, you don't have to look far for things to criticize. Syria, delivering car bombs to "disobedient" politicians in other countries. Iran, threatening to wipe another country off the map. Saudi Arabia, where do we start? Since when did being a Muslim country grant some immunity from criticism? So where is Prince Charles coming from?

Perhaps the following gives a clue:

Prince Charles, who is about to embark on his first official foreign tour since his marriage to the Duchess of Cornwall, wants Americans - including Mr Bush - to share his fondness for Islam. He has agreed to attend a seminar on religions at Georgetown University, Washington, on Thursday: the only event where he will not be accompanied by the Duchess.

Brave guy. You won't find many non-Muslims expressing a fondness for Islam these days. But perhaps it's time to take out and dust down those old persistent rumors.

From the London Evening Standard, Oct. 15, 1996, quoted here

The idea of the Prince of Wales lugging around a prayer mat and turning to face Mecca five times a day sounds a tad unlikely - but, then again, so did confessing to adultery on prime-time television a couple of years ago. So perhaps no one should be shocked by the suggestion in a forthcoming book that Prince Charles has converted to Islam.

Or another quote from the same article

This claim was put forward by no less a personage than the grand mufti of Cyprus: "Did you know that Prince Charles has converted to Islam. Yes, yes. He is a Muslim. I can't say more. But it happened in Turkey. Oh, yes, he converted all right. When you get home check on how often he travels to Turkey. You'll find that your future king is a Muslim." "Nonsense," replied a Buckingham Palace spokesman, denying Charles's supposed conversion.

Tittle-tattle? Perhaps. But all this was pre-1991, when Islam wasn't so vilified, so there would have been other better weapons in those days if someone wanted to "get" Charles. There's more.

The future Charles III has made several strong public statements endorsing Islam as the solution to the spiritual and cultural ills of Britain and the West. His public advocacy of Islam appears to go back to 1989, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict (fatwa) against Salman Rushdie, a British citizen, for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses. Rather than defend Rushdie's freedom of speech, Charles reacted to the death decree by reflecting on the positive features that Islam has to offer the spiritually empty lives of his countrymen.

Let's turn to Charles and Saudi Arabia, because it's here that my prejudices surface once more. I have always found Charles to be, for some reason, an apologist for Saudi Arabia. A quotation from him:

Our judgement of Islam has been grossly distorted by taking the extremes to the norm. . . . For example, people in this country frequently argue that the Sharia law of the Islamic world is cruel, barbaric and unjust. Our newspapers, above all, love to peddle those unthinking prejudices. The truth is, of course, different and always more complex. My own understanding is that extremes, like the cutting off of hands, are rarely practised. The guiding principle and spirit of Islamic law, taken straight from the Qur'an, should be those of equity and compassion.

Is he aware that the "more complex" truth is that these punishments, like stoning women, are rarely reported, not rarely practiced? When you run the newspapers, you can manage these things. How much does he actually know, as opposed to turning a blind eye? Or does it really not bother him that much, as long as he can rationalize that it's the exception, not the rule?

I've always been curious why he is such a frequent visitor to Saudi Arabia. In February last year


HRH The Prince of Wales visited Saudi Arabia between 9-13 February. This was the Prince of Wales’s eighth visit to the Kingdom....The Prince of Wales then attended a private discussion with a number of leading Saudi opinion formers, hosted by the British Ambassador, Mr Sherard Cowper-Coles.

Whose opinion was being formed? And why has he officially visited 8 times? I'll bet he's not been that many times to most of the Commonwealth countries, of which he may at some point in the future be King. These are, after all, official visits to Saudi, not private trips to see some polo-playing chum. So is he actually visiting what he feels to be his spiritual home? Did he make incognito trips to the Holy Mosques?

That's quite enough innuendo for one day, but sadly, I'm still disturbed by his motives. I personally have no problem with him being a Muslim, although the good people of Britain may think otherwise. But I'd want him to be a moderate Muslim, not some freaky crazed Wahabbi, and it's often the problem with converts that they are more zealous than the time-serving regulars. However I hear the footsteps of Beefeaters approaching, so I'd better finish. And I'll conclude with the time-honored ending of tabloid writers over here:

Prince Charles, what is the Truth? The British public deserve to be told!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday Sermon 

Today is Friday. Friday is our holy day. It's the day we go to the mosque for the main service of the week, our Friday prayers. It's also the Imam's big moment of the week, when he gives the big sermon, the one that reminds us of our obligations to God and our fellow man. So let's look at three items that he won't breathe a word about, in his Friday Sermon in Saudi Arabia.

1. The Khamys Mushayt Girl. I've seen nothing now, for two months. When you disappear into the Saudi legal system, you really disappear. So she won't be mentioned.

2. The reaction of the Saudi Government to the Iranian President's call that "Israel must be wiped off the map." Oh, the Imams may repeat that quote, ad nauseam, because they lap that sort of stuff up. But they won't quote the Saudi government response, because there wasn't one. An editorial in the "Green Truth" perhaps explains why.

It was certainly undiplomatic of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to call for Israel to be “wiped off the map”...

It certainly was "undiplomatic". Now, wait for it....


Now you knew that was coming, didn't you!

the wave of Western fury, with countries such as Canada, France, the UK and Spain hauling in the Iranian ambassador and protesting, looks contrived.

Why does our editor think that? Because, it's no worse than the

comments of its (France's) then ambassador in London, Daniel Bernard, who called Israel “that sh*tty little country”?

according to our editor, who hasn't quite got the hang of ideas like "moral equivalence" yet. Now a truly equivalent statement by the French Ambassador would have been...

Israel, “that sh*tty little country”, that should be wiped.................. Oh, no, that's the problem when you mix your metaphors. Anyway, you know what I was getting at.

Puzzled, the editor goes on to ask

And why is it that only the West is making a fuss?

Well, I don't suppose they are too thrilled about it in the East, like India or Japan. But perhaps the answer is the rabid hatred of Israel and all things Jewish in this part of the world. So when Iran finally nukes Israel, our editor will say

It was certainly unsporting of Iran to wipe Israel off the map. But perhaps, in the long run, it's for the best....

Now my own local Imam may well condemn the original quote, because he's a good sort of guy, and I chose the mosque carefully. Perhaps when "Fr Jim" gets back from being a guest at his local mosque, he could let us know whether it was condemned there. But, for sure, it won't be condemned in Saudi Arabia.

3. A new legal cause celebre, which I picked up thanks to "Erik".

A 14-year-old Egyptian boy faces execution in Saudi Arabia after a flawed trial in which he was convicted for the murder of another child, Human Rights Watch said today.

Following a seriously flawed trial, Ahmad al-D. was sentenced to death in July for the murder of three-year old Wala’ `Adil `Abd al-Badi` in Dammam in April 2004. The families of both children are Egyptian nationals living in Saudi Arabia. Wala’s parents have refused to accept blood money (diya) from Ahmad’s family, and Ahmad remains on death row in a juvenile detention facility in Dammam.

Saudi Arabia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits capital punishment for offenses committed by individuals under 18 at the time of the crime and protects the rights of all children accused or convicted of crimes.

Although he was only 13 at the time of the murder, the court tried and sentenced Ahmad as an adult.

Saudi Arabia stated in its 2004 report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that the “Islamic Shariah in force in the Kingdom never imposes capital punishment on persons who have not attained their majority” and that “a juvenile is .... below the age of 18”.

OK, so we lied. At least it got the UN off our back. But the Imams won't condemn that either.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"The Rothschilds" - Shock News! 

Damn! Isn't it always the way? Just when you're getting into a new soap opera, they go and cut it! The sponsors aren't getting enough advertising, or the principle lead has gone into drug rehab, or something like that. And I was really looking forward to the next episode of "The Rothschilds".

Here's a taster:

Helen, a Christian lady who lives in a Romanian Jewish ghetto, is holding a Tupperware party. Amongst others, she has invited Nathan Rothschild and the Rabbi.

The doorbell rings. The Rabbi stands at the door. So does Nathan, clutching a large box, tied up with a ribbon.

Rabbi: Hello Judith. Thanks for inviting us. We're looking forward to buying some Tupperware, especially something to keep warm sticky liquids in, so they don't congeal. Anyway, how are you?

Judith: I'm fine thanks, Rabbi. But I'm a bit worried about my little Joseph. I haven't seen him for a few hours.

Nathan: Oh, I shouldn't worry, Judith, you know what young boys are like, always going off without saying where, they forget Mother's Day, they don't call, they don't write. He'll be around here somewhere. Anyway, I've brought you a present!

Judith: Oh Nathan, you shouldn't have! (Removes ribbon and opens box). Oh! My favorite! Matzos! Passover Matzos! (Picks one out and eats it). Mmm, it's delicious! (Helps herself to another one). They've got an extra-special taste, familiar in a strange sort of way. You Jews certainly know how to bake! It's obviously all local ingredients, and organic too! Joseph is going to be awfully disappointed that he didn't get to eat these. You must let me have the recipe!.......

So what happens next? We'll never know.

Here's the story of how the series got pulled. Now this is a classic bit of Arab "Saving Face". The Jordanian Government can't say that they cancelled the series, because that would imply that they authorized it in the first place. This in turn would mean that:

So instead they create an elaborate fiction.

"It has come to our attention that a controversial program entitled 'Al-Shatat' or 'The Diaspora' has been broadcast from an independent/private channel entitled 'Mamnou' operating from the Media Free Zone in Jordan, which is not subject to Jordanian Law. The program itself was not broadcast from any Jordanian channel..... The Government of Jordan does not monitor or control the content of any program broadcasting from the free zone, whether it is cultural, political, or otherwise.

Nothing to do with us, guys, say the Jordanians. We've just created a "Media Free Zone". And it's totally out of our control.

Must be difficult for them to stop programs in that case. So how was it stopped?

"'Al-Shatat' drew concerns for inciting hate. Accordingly, the program has been stopped from the private channel as of Tuesday, October 25th 2005. The termination was only done through personal intervention of responsible Jordanians.

Ah. Of course. Responsible citizens of Jordan stopped it. Marched up to the studios, carrying banners. Led by a shortish guy called Abdullah II, perhaps? Trained as an army officer in Sandhurst, England? Took over the family firm when Dad died?

If only there were more such responsible citizens around. And if only they would stop this garbage in the first place, instead of being found out and humiliated.

Nice one, MEMRI.

Heaven and Hell 

You've got to love today's technology. It can shine a light into all those dark corners, where otherwise the cockroaches would lurk and scurry. It's a force that can reveal all the nastiness and stupidity in the world, and bring it out into the light of day.

An example of technology's power is Farah's camera phone. She shone it on a corner in King Saud University in Riyadh. The corner in question is a faculty bulletin board. And it contains guidance to female students on the correct way to dress in public.

Now KSU is an educational establishment for our finest and brainiest. So you might think that the cartoon-like imagery is a bit patronizing for bright university students. However, that would be to judge the picture at a superficial level. Like all great religious paintings, it can be approached at many levels. Let's start to unpick it.

In Christian church art, this would be called a "triptych", because it contains three graphic panels. Let's start with the one on the right. The lady on the right is wearing the standard "ninja" abaya and veil. There is nothing to relieve the drab monotony of its outline. Of course, she could be covering something really fashionable. However, in all probability, she's wearing another abaya underneath. And another underneath that, and so on, the Saudi equivalent of the "Russian Doll". Note that she is not carrying a handbag or purse. Thus, while she may look in the shops, she does not actually buy anything. Likewise, she is not able to carry a phone, and so does not gossip or chat with friends. Obviously, she does not carry cosmetics. Overall, we may regard her as conformist and dull. Or, in Western teenage parlance, "sad".

By contrast, the lady on the left is wearing a separate detachable veil. Not only does it reveal brief glimpses of facial flesh, it also implies the tantalizing possibility that she may whip it off and reveal a full frontal face. The overall effect is a stylish personal statement. She is probably wearing something fashionable underneath. She carries a large handbag or purse. She likes shopping, chatting with her friends. Naturally, she carries cosmetics. There is even room for a large bunch of car keys, when "some day" finally arrives. Overall, she is interesting, definitely "her own person". In Western teenage parlance, she is "cool".

Let us now turn our attention to the middle panel. It depicts "Heaven and Hell". Heaven, on the left, is represented by a blazing log fire. Heaven is in fact a large rambling resort hotel in somewhere very much like New England. It is a "hotel of a thousand rooms", so you can be as solitary or gregarious as you wish. Outside, it is early Fall, the sun is shining, the tree colors are gorgeous, the air is crisp and inviting. What better, after a long walk in the bracing air, to come back and sit by that same blazing log fire in the foyer, while one of the heavenly host brings you a spiced mulled wine? Later, there is dinner, excellent as always, with fine wines and stimulating company. The library of books and DVD's is extensive, and the many salons provide a range of entertainment from the raucous to the ethereal. My own favorite is the salon where long-deceased but world-class string quartets play for their and our pleasure.

By contrast, we see Hell on the right. Hell is a big muddy field with the occasional copse of trees. The weather is always drizzling with rain. You may occasionally see a rabbit. More often you will see a cow; as you approach it, it "moos" and defecates noisily. You cannot avoid treading in the stuff. If you want something approaching "fun", head off towards the copse, but look out for the Poison Ivy. In a clearing, there is a group of elderly Boy Scouts, sitting round a puny camp fire, singing camp fire songs and attempting to roast marshmallows. (No offense, but as "Miss Jean Brodie" famously remarked in the book of the same name, "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like"). This world is of course also the world of the Muttawa, and they drive up in a demonic GMC to put a stop to all this fun. However, you can still tread in the cow stuff if you wish.

So, the moral of the picture? The lady on the left goes to Heaven. It's her sort of place. She enjoys the good things there, and the people suit her. We enjoy meeting her up there. As well as our nearest and dearest, we enjoy her company for her wit, her unique outlook on life, her individualism. Not only that, don't forget the large handbag. When she is not exercising her new-found driving skills, she is generous to a fault with her money. In my case, she gives me the money for the mega-size flat screen LCD TV I've been pining for.

By contrast, the lady on the right goes to Hell. Well, let's face it, Heaven wouldn't suit her. She prefers the endlessly dull rainy days and boring company. Only stay away from her, because she has no handbag. Just when you've saved enough for that flat screen TV, she comes over and gives you a hard luck story. She borrows the money and disappears over the soggy horizon. Time to try and make some more money by selling marshmallows to Boy Scouts.

I just hope those lady students have "got the message" and are dressing appropriately.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rania recants 

Remember this story about Rania Al Baz's escape to the West, via the causeway to Bahrain? Not true, she's apparently saying now.

I Wasn't Prevented From Traveling, Says Rania Al-Baz

Here is what she is saying.

"First of all, I did not leave the country secretly like a runaway or a criminal. I left legally and officially. In fact, I was not prevented from leaving Saudi Arabia but at the airport in Jeddah on my way to Paris, one of the passport employees took my passport and my ticket and began asking me all kinds of questions. I became worried that one of my enemies was trying to delay me until the plane had taken off. By the time I got my ticket and passport, the plane had indeed taken off. I went back home and wrote a letter to Prince Muhammad ibn Naif at the Interior Ministry explaining what had happened. I then went to Bahrain and from there to Dubai and to Paris."

If that's the story she wants to publish then she's fully entitled to do so. However, I think the rest of us are entitled to some scepticism on her behalf. For example, I am puzzled why, if she had sorted things out with Prince Naif, she did not just fly out of her home town of Jeddah, or even Riyadh. Between those two cities, there are a number of daily connections to Europe. Instead, why travel over 1000 kms to the other side of the country, to leave it via a land border with its additional delay, and then get a plane from Bahrain to Dubai, with even more delay, and then finally to Europe? Apart from the fact that a land border offers more opportunity to cross clandestinely, than does an international airport?

She says

I know that what was published is damaging to Saudi Arabia and that there are many who are glad to exploit anything negative against Saudi Arabia. I will not tell anything but the truth even if I end up sleeping in the street. And I will not talk about what happened except to the authorities. The Saudi Embassy in Paris is trying to help me. Everyone knows that I received care and protection from my government and from His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Majeed and his wife Princess Sara Al-Angary.

When asked whether and when she will return, she says, perhaps tellingly

Definitely, I will return to Saudi Arabia. It is my country, and my family and children are there.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The New Hollywood? 

We've now had the news about the epic Saudi 'Two Kings' production, followed by the opening of the first 'Saudi Cinema' of recent times. Soon there's clearly going to be a huge demand for home-grown Arab language movies, so we need a Middle East version of Hollywood or Bollywood. So where could that be? Let's have a look at Syria.

Not literally, of course. Syria is one of the last places on God's earth that I would want to travel to. Most Saudis feel that way. Saudis usually have a problem at the Syrian land border post. Or rather, the Syrian customs and immigration officials have a problem. It's an eyesight problem. They have some eyesight defect, that means they cannot see our passports, or other travel documents, or indeed us. Somehow our documents, and we ourselves, are invisible. We could wait there, in some ratty shed with inadequate air conditioning, all day. The only thing that makes us visible, is to insert a large-denomination note in between the pages of the passport. Then they suddenly see us! It's a miracle! It's a genuine Islamic miracle!

Squalidly corrupt officials are usually the product of squalidly corrupt governments. And even by the abysmal standards of the Middle East, they don't come any more squalid or corrupt than that of the Syrian government. Or should I say monarchy? After all, the present Head of State inherited the title from his father. So now we have King Bashar the Gormless. The man who gave the words "I'll send a car for you" a new and chilling meaning.

One aspect that is common to any squalid government, is that they need an enemy, a scapegoat. Someone to point the finger at, as being the source of all ills. Someone to make their own hapless people look away from the self-serving incompetents who are running their country, and concentrate on someone else instead. And in this part of the world, who better than the Jooos? Not very original, of course. From Hitler and the Czars down to the nastiest little autocrats, they've all gone for the Jooos. But if it works, why change it?

The burgeoning movie scene in the Middle East has tempted Syria to throw its cap into the ring, to be the center of movie-making. And what better movie to start with than "Diaspora", the story of an ordinary Jewish family. They're called the Rothschilds. They do a bit of banking as a day job, but their pastime is World Domination. Mind you, that wasn't their first choice. They really wanted just to play golf, but the Goyim wouldn't let them join the club.

The full details are at the MEMRI site, (link below). The movie first appeared on Syrian TV, and this year is one of the "Ramadan Specials" on Jordanian TV. Let me just give you a taster, while you wait for it to come to your local multiplex.

The first scene features old Amschel Rothschild on his deathbed in 1812, with his sons standing round. Just so we know where he's coming from, he croaks

"All the nations that violate the religion of the Jews originated from the seed of a stinking and filthy ass. Rule them in secret and in public, with strength and oppression through deceit and cunning, and do not allow any nation to share your control of the world...
"God has honored us, the Jews, with the mission of ruling the world using money, using science, using politics, using murder, using sex, using any means..."

No hidden agenda here. Don't you just hate those conniving sneaky Jooos already? He starts to divide up the world. For example,

"You, Solomon, take Austria. The most loathsome country, namely Britain, I have left to you Nathan."

Then he dies. I think it's based on the Shakespeare scene where King Lear divides up his country. However, Shakespeare it's not. Sadly it's also not got the humor of the Superman scene where Lex Luther asks General Zod for an island - Australia. The father character is pure ham, if you'll excuse the expression, while the sons are so wooden it's like being in the middle of a forest. But I did just wonder if it was based on a real-life scene at the deathbed of King Bashar's father. ("You, Bashar, are clueless and chinless - you shall have Syria").

Then there's the scene in 1894, where the Jewish world government is taking Executive Decisions.

Dr. Sam Rothschild: "Rabbi Shilotka, arrange for the assassination of the Czar, but do it quietly."
Rabbi Shilotka: "All right."

And did you know, Alexander III died in 1894, of kidney disease? Cunning Jooos. Obviously "quietly" poisoned him. But there was other business to take care of.

Dr. Sam Rothschild: "Before we close the meeting, I want to remind everyone that this period of international balance must not continue. Do everything possible to incite the Germans to start a war. Any questions? In the name of the global Jewish government, all ideas raised in this meeting will be implemented. This year here, next year in Jerusalem."

And by gosh, didn't a German war start in 1914? What a prophetic film this is.

There's potentially a good scene when the Jooos in a ghetto ritually kill one of their number, for the crime of marrying a Goy woman. Here's what the punishment involves:

"You, hold his nose shut. You, open his mouth with tongs. You, pour lead into his mouth. You, cut off his ears. And you, stab his body with a knife before the lead kills him. Understood? This is a sacred Talmudic court. Any of you who fails in his mission will be tried just like this criminal."

Sadly, it's all a bit tame. After all, when someone pours molten lead into your mouth, there should be lots of hissing and writhing and steam and leaden gurgling. If Peckinpah directed it, someone would reach in and pull out a stomach-shaped lead ingot. But there's none of that. It looks like they are force-feeding him Chicken Soup. Then a woman faints. Or perhaps she was so bored, she fell asleep.

Anyway, I'm glad to see that this movie doesn't deny the Holocaust. Far from it. It is in fact a Machiavellian Jooo plan to populate Palestine with Jooos. It's explained in this scene.

Chairman: "Listen to me closely. We need to help Hitler annihilate the Jews, because this is the only way to drive the Jews from the countries that Hitler has not yet occupied to immigrate to the Promised Land."
Participant: "Can I ask a question?"
Chairman: " Please."
Participant: "Isn't there another way to attract immigrants to the Promised Land besides annihilation?"
Chairman: "Unfortunately no, because no Jew living in comfort in Europe will consider coming here unless he feels the threat of annihilation. So I want you to be realistic, and to leave all sentiment behind. Let's all cooperate to increase the annihilation operations so that we can ultimately realize our dream of establishing the great empire in the Promised Land."

So they sacrificed 6 million of their own, in order to set up the state of Israel. I don't know about you, but they certainly had me fooled! What naughty rascals they are!

However, no self-respecting movie of this genre can manage without the bit where they sacrifice a Gentile child. Why? Well, it's for this recipe.

Rabbi: "Listen. We want the blood of a Christian child before Passover, for the matzos. Don't think too hard. Joseph, the son of Helen, your neighbor."

Don't you get annoyed with those recipe books, when you can't get the ingredients at the supermarket?

Anyway, they go out to find a "Christian Child" called Joseph. Actually, in the movie, he doesn't look too "Christian" to me. In fact, he looks decidedly Semitic. Perhaps they picked up a "Yousef" instead of a "Joseph". "Yousef"'s mother isn't going to be too pleased about that. Plus they may not get the right Matzo taste. However, he's more than a child, he's quite a big lad. Lots of blood, lots of Matzos. Perhaps they can sell them wholesale. So how do the Matzos turn out? The evil Rabbi tries them on a non-religious Jew.

Rabbi: "Hello."
Non-religious Jew: "Hello."
Rabbi: "Good Passover."
Non-religious Jew: "Good Passover to you too."
Rabbi: I want to let you taste the holy Passover matzo. Then, maybe you will come back to your religion."
Non-religious Jew: "No, thanks, I don't want to."
Rabbi: "No, no. You must eat this, if not for my sake, for the sake of God."
Non-religious Jew: "Thank you."
Rabbi: "How is it? Tasty?"
Non-religious Jew: " Plain. Like all the matzos in the world."

What did I say? If you skimp on the ingredients, you can spoil the whole thing. Next time, ask for J-o-s-e-p-h. Then your Matzos won't taste plain, and you won't have wasted all that blood. Not to mention all the other bits you had to throw away.

There's much more if you go to the MEMRI site.

You can see the wholesome fare that we enjoy in our movies. But we don't watch movies and programs that are "haram", for example that show people drinking alcohol. Not even Bloody Marys.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

From the Bumper Book of Muslim Humor..... 

...comes this jolly joke from part-time schoolteacher and Palestinian immigrant to Britain, Mazin Albarq.

He was taking a class of 13- and 14-year-olds at St Bede's Catholic School in Lanchester, Co Durham, in the north-east of England, perhaps having a bit of a discipline problem, when he wittily quipped

"Behave or I'll put a bomb on your bus."

How the children laughed! You see, it was an example of a topical joke. The fact that on 7/7, another Muslim had actually blown up a bus in London, made it all the more funny.

What a shame that some of the children and parents tried to spoil the fun by pretending not to "get it".

The parent of one 14-year-old said: "Children who use the school bus were terrified. It was surely meant as a joke but in the present climate there was nothing remotely funny."
Another parent said his 13-year-old daughter arrived home in tears after the school bus journey.

However, the Joker from Jericho was genuinely puzzled...

Mr Albarq, father of a primary age pupil, said at his home in Darlington, Co Durham: "How sad that a joke can cause such a fuss."

Sad indeed. He repaid the hospitality of the English by trying to make them laugh, and look what happened. It just shows what a miserable lot they are.

(Daily Mirror 19/10/2005)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

It's Scam Season again 

It's Ramadan. And yes, I do observe and enjoy Ramadan. I don't eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. It's a time when we come that bit closer to God, when we appreciate more His bounty, and when we think more about those who are not so fortunate as us.

Back home, the night time is a time for partying and families, and that's something I miss, by being currently in the UK. Here, thanks to Farooha, is a picture of Riyadh at 2.30 in the morning in Ramadan. Riyadh, the city that never sleeps. Never sleeps, that is, until its population are at work the next day.

Ramadan is also the time when we Muslims are supposed to be at our most charitable, so all the scam merchants are out in force.

Needy or Greedy? Con Men Cash In on Ramadan Spirit

As Saudis filled with the charitable spirit of Ramadan go to and from the mosques of the city, they are more than happy to help a traveler in need. What they may not realize, however, is that some of the needy are more greedy than needy.Con men are on the prowl masquerading as travelers in need, often in fancy cars with wives and children and tales of lost wallets and interrupted pilgrimages hoping to fleece the faithful in the name of charity.“I’m coming from Dammam to go to Makkah via Riyadh,” the “traveler” begins. “I found my wallet missing when I went to pay my bills at the supermarket. I am unable to go to Makkah nor can I return home since I am penniless. Could you help me, sir?”A look in the car reveals a youngster and a woman in the back seat. More often than not, the passerby pulls out his wallet and helps the hapless “family” on their way.

Not this passerby. Not because I'm particularly astute. It's just that when you're out walking, for every driver who just stops to ask directions, there's another trying to pull this same old tired old scam. Indeed, at one time, it happened to me so often, I thought it was part of the regular Ramadan devotions. Perhaps there was a passage about it somewhere in the Quran.

O you who believe! When you journey on the road, and you do espy one who seems less wise than the camel, do beseech him for gold to help you on your way, and you may be so blessed. Do it as many times as there are dates on the palm, and soon you may afford another wife, or better still, a new Landcruiser.

However, some of the scammers are much cleverer. So much so that they've got the Imams warning us against the "Satanic phone gang". It's being practiced on those whose level of spiritual sophistication is, shall we say, lower than average. The sort of people who believe in Jinns, demons, sorcery and magic. Unfortunately the Imams who advise them are equally superstitious.


At first he asked me to sacrifice three cows near the sea before the sun rises, said one victim, Salha Al-Jizani, a 33-year-old female schoolteacher from Al-Leith village.Al-Jizani, who came close to being duped into transferring thousands of riyals from her own bank account, was told by the alleged demonic fraudsters that she would lose her only son if she did not do as they said.

I don't want to appear to poke fun at this lady, who has been thru a genuinely scary experience. But these scammers know the sort of people to target. They wouldn't stand a chance with a City Boy like me, because I wouldn't know where to start if they asked me to "sacrifice three cows near the sea". The only cows I see are the bits of ones wrapped up in the local supermarket. And having found three luckless cows, how do you persuade them to go down to the sea? I watch "Extreme Rodeo", and those animals seem to have very definite ideas about where they will, or will not, go. I know those are bulls, not cows, but they are all bigger than me, and I don't want to go anywhere near them. And then how do you kill them?. Cutting the throat is obviously the Halal way to do it, but I couldn't do it with those big brown eyes looking at me, besides it might charge, and how could I do it by myself when it always takes four Spaniards and a horse to kill one bull?

So no, they go for someone who is a country person, who can do that sort of thing. And then, having established that the person is in their power, they try to go for the sting, fortunately not succeeding in this case.

Although Al-Jizani did actually sacrifice the cows as first instructed but she did not make the money transfer despite the crooks being able to rightly identify her son s medical condition.I was going to transfer money to him, especially after he told me that I am going to lose my only son and about his bad health condition, she said.

But reading this story, don't you just spot a little clue about how these people might work?

despite the crooks being able to rightly identify her son s medical condition.

So the son has a medical condition. Treated at the local health center or hospital? So could it possibly be someone with access, legally or illegally, to the records there? Why not send in the cops to sniff around the place? Just a thought.

Not, however, a thought that occured to the local Imams. Graduates, no doubt, of Saudi Arabia's wonderful Imam University. Why should these guys give some sensible, rational explanation, when they can bamboozle their flock into continuing to believe all the stupid mumbo-jumbo that made them prey in the first place?

Now Muslim scholars are warning against these organized gangs,

...Scholars have said that these gangs are most likely to be in contact with satanic or demonic beings...

There are different kinds of magic which puts people under the spell of the sorcerer who makes them see many false things also there is the black magic which got its name from the dark and mysterious things that it s connected to. This can include sacrifices to Satan, said Sheikh Abdulaziz Abo-Loujine.

Muslim scholars say that sorcery is getting power from association with evil spirits or Satan being associated with using magic potions and casting spells.

Gimme a break! These Imams are continuing to preach witch-doctor theology to a hapless rural population, who are thus softened up even more as victims to "Satanic scams".

Perhaps the "Satanic phone gang" and the Imams are all working the scam together.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Good News for cartoon characters 

Thanks to "Robert" to alerting me to this. It looks like, over at Dudley Council in the English Midlands, the previously-banished Piglet is about to be rehabilitated in society.

Toy pig ban climbdown

Race equality rules are being reviewed at Dudley Council after workers were told to remove toy pigs from desks because they offended a Muslim staff member.
Council leaders say they will not accept "extreme forms of political correctness". Last month the Express & Star revealed how staff in the council's benefits department were told to remove a series of toy pigs sent as a promotion, as well as pig imagery, from their desks.
It came after a complaint from a Muslim worker who said she was offended by the items - the Koran forbids Muslims from eating and touching pork.

So it's not yet a "done deal", but they do at least realize that the rules could be silly, and need reviewing. For example

She said that under the current rules, staff could even be asked to remove a football scarf if colleagues claimed they were offended.

For those on the other side of the pond, a "football scarf" is something that winds round your neck and bears the colors of your favorite soccer team. By definition, it offends all supporters of all the other competing soccer teams, so there's lots of scope for being offended there. But the biggest offense is probably the one I commit. On Saturday afternoons, I wear the scarf of Tottenham Hotspur, famous for its large number of London Jewish supporters; if that doesn't offend the more lunatic of my fellow-Muslims, what will?

Meanwhile, back in Saudi Arabia, there is more good news for all the little cartoon people.

Cartoons herald return of cinema to Saudi Arabia

In what is either:

- the new King striking a blow against the conservative religious establishment, or

- an empty gesture in the absence of any real tangible progress

(delete one or other depending on personal optimism / pessimism profile)

we learn that

After an absence of about 20 years, cinema will make a tentative return to Saudi Arabia next month with a screening of cartoons for an audience of women and children. A one-hour programme of foreign cartoons dubbed into Arabic will be shown at a hotel in Riyadh three times a night for two weeks, starting from November 2 or 3, when the holy month of Ramadan ends.

Supposedly we used to have cinemas, although driving around, you don't see cinema-like buildings converted into carpet showrooms or (obviously!) Bingo Halls. However the cinema, if only one, is back, in a conference hall of the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh. Women and children only, of course, we don't want any of that American or European naughtiness going on in the back row. And only cartoons, because, as you can imagine, real people in films can lead to all sorts of issues. After all, if we ask our friendly local Imam what is haram (forbidden) to watch, he will tell us that

but what is haram is showing programs that go against the shari`ah, such as showing women who are dressed and undressed, the drinking of alcohol, relations of love and intimacy that are against the shari`ah, and singing that is accompanied by haram music. Showing all of these things is haram and so is looking at them.

Showing women dressed and undressed? Easier to say, no women. Perhaps "Master and Commander", that's all men on a British Navy ship. But then, there's a suspicion of "Rum and Sodomy", we'll have to give that a miss as well. So what does that leave? Pretty well nothing. Apart, obviously, from this spectacular-in-the-making involving two Saudi Kings, that we are all besides ourselves with impatience to see. But cartoons should be OK, shouldn't they? Let's look at some famous ones.

Bugs Bunny: Clean animal, eats carrots, American accent but we can dub him into street-Jeddah, he should go down well.

The Simpsons: Well, Homer can be used as a negative role model for slobby boozing infidel. Trouble is, Lisa is a bit smart, and certainly more so than her brother. That will upset our cultural preconceptions. No Simpsons.

Fred Flintstone: The women know their place, stay at home, never drive. Men get to do all the fun stuff. Definitely OK.

Charlie Brown and Snoopy: Cute, but dogs are unclean, haram. Sorry.

Betty Boop: You're kidding! Look at her. Harlot! Stone her!

Top Cat: A clean animal but a bit too streetwise. Reminds us of a gang of foreign "overstayers", out in the streets selling Qurans they've just stolen from the local mosque. Sorry.

Mickey Mouse: Cute, innocent, dumb. OK. But no Minny.

Popeye: Tobacco addiction. Unveiled girlfriend. Sorry.

Scooby-Doo. We believe in Jinns (spirits), but can't have an unclean dog chasing them away, they'll only come back ten-fold.

Winnie the Pooh: If you don't know the answer already, you haven't been paying attention.

Yogi Bear: In principle, OK. Problem is, he steals. So he's going to get one hand and the opposite foot amputated. Not that that will upset the kids, they see amputations all the time. It's just that a wobbly bear isn't funny any more.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner: Road Runner drives like the typical Saudi Dad, especially in the city. He'll be a real hero. Definitely.

Superman: Yes. Just change the "S" to an Arabic "Siin" and have him speak Arabic with a Riyadh accent.

Wonder Woman: What do you think?

Porky Pig: Ditto

Two of my favorites:

Wallace and Grommit: Silly, quirky British humor. Sadly, one of them is unclean.

Chicken Run: Kids will love the tale. So will the Imams, until they realize it's a story of plucky resourceful hens who escape a life of drudgery continually giving birth, and escape over the wall to a life of freedom. Then they'll ban it.

However, this one is bound to be OK. It's the favorite of King Abdullah and Prince Naif. It's the impression they always do together when they've got a couple of 6-packs and a home delivery Chinese.

Here they are watching Barbara Walters doing some TV program.

Naif: "Call now for live, one on one conversations...."
"Share your intimate thoughts"
"Dollar ninety-five a minute"
"must be 18 or older"
Abdullah: "This Chick's name is..Baba Wawa"
Naif: "Yeah - that's Japanese for 'butt'"
Abdullah: "Hey Naif - if we had a dollar ninety-five we could call up and share our intimate thoughts"
Naif: "Yeah - we could tell her she sucks"
"Hrr, hrr, hrr."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wage Slaves 

This is going to be one of those depressing posts. No laughs here.

I'm often very critical of my country, but it's usually directed at the self-serving royal family or the completely lunatic religious establishment. The rest of us are caught between the complacent greed and the life-denying fanaticism.

However, let's tell a good story. Well, it's a good story followed by a bad story. The good story is that the Kingdom has made enormous strides over the last few decades in literacy and education, particularly the education of girls and women. It's been a particularly good use of the oil revenues. However the bad story is that there aren't the employment opportunities to match. And what could be more frustrating than that for a female graduate? There is a tiny number of retail opportunities, including banks, for those whose families have Wasta. For rather more, there are teaching jobs. However, this can involve a 150-mile round journey to some school in the back of nowhere in a rattly old minibus, because they still have to live at home, So what do the rest do to find fulfillment? Well, a clue is that we have one of the highest birth rates in the world.

However, in some cases, SAUDI WOMEN TAKE UP FACTORY JOBS

NOT being able to find jobs suitable to their university degrees, more and more Saudi women are turning to women-run factories to make a living or kill boredom.

During the last two years, several factories opened up women s department to employ Saudi women capable of working, turning a blind eye to their university degree qualification and concentrating only on production.

There they are. Still wearing headgear, of course. It's the sort of headcovering they wear at home when they are serving coffee to the husband's male relatives and friends. Easy to see out, difficult to see in. Presumably, there is a male foreman somewhere in that room. I find the picture particularly depressing, not just because of the qualification issue, but because we still subject them to our male ideas of propriety, even when they should be able to have a little bit of freedom. It reminds me of one of those post-apocalyptic films where we are all downtroddon slaves in some grungy depressing underground chamber, guarded by one-eyed psychos toting multi-barrel machine guns. Yet, I guess they are relatively lucky; they get to go out, meet other women, earn a bit of money for themselves.

I like women. They are the live-giving force, the nurturers of our families. I believe that if there were more women politicians and statesmen, the world would be more peaceful. I am absolutely certain that if there were more women employed in Saudi Arabia, productivity and customer service would shoot thru the roof. So what hope do they have for the future? Well, King Abdullah says "Some day".

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Memo from King Abdullah's Press Secretary 

To: Head of Saudi Press Agency
From: Press Secretary to King Abdullah
Date: October 15th, 2004

Subject: Translation of Barbara Walters interview transcript into Arabic

When the Saudi Press Agency translates the transcript of the King's interview with Ms Walters into Arabic, King Abdullah would like the following points to be noted:

1. When questioned about unemployment in the Kingdom, the King replied

We need to find approximately 100,000 jobs for those who are seeking jobs but cannot find them at this time

Clearly the King gave a number that is considerably below the correct figure for the total jobless. However, he believes that even this lower figure may still be demoralizing for internal Saudi consumption. You should therefore change it to say

Only about 100,000 remain who are looking for work, and most of them are waiting for work to become available for them in the cities.

This will give the impression that there are in fact plenty of jobs available in the country, if only the lazy slobs would get off their backsides and go out into the desert to shovel camel dung.

2. The Jewish woman asked

Terrorism to some degree starts with extremism, and there are people who feel that the educational system here in Saudi Arabia has in the past contributed to extremism and hatred. When we were here three years ago, we found textbooks that called for the killing of Jews. What is being done to stop this … extremist teaching?

She is of course arguing a special case on behalf of her own race. Questioning a phrase about calling for Jews to be killed implies that there is something wrong with that idea. Our religious establishment would be enraged if we were to soft-pedal on that, and so to avoid difficulties, King Abdullah would like the phrase to be removed. Therefore the question in Arabic should read

Terrorism to some degree starts with extremism, and there are people who feel that the educational system here in Saudi Arabia has in the past contributed to extremism and hatred. What is being done to stop this … extremist teaching?

3. In a further response to the question on textbooks, the King said in Arabic that

Yes, we have adjusted them a little.

Unfortunately, the translator made the mistake of translating this to….

Yes, we have. … We have toned them down.

…giving the unfortunate impression to the kuffars that we had responded to their squeamish “liberal” complaints by removing our teachings on deviants such as Jews and Freemasons. The translator has now been moved to a position where he translates yoghurt labels and the packaging for toilet rolls. However the King does not want our people to think that we are diluting our religious teaching in any way, and has requested that the entire phrase be removed from the Arabic version.

4. When the King said

The questioner is often times more knowledgeable than the questionee

He was making “a compliment”. This is apparently a Western concept that involves saying nice things to women. Its purpose was “flattery”, another Western concept used for such purposes as gaining sexual favors or changing the subject. The King wishes to emphasize that his objective was definitely the latter, not the former. However justifying all this to a conservative Saudi audience would present difficulties. Rather than trying to explain to the typical Saudi male why one might say nice things to women, the King would rather forget the whole exchange – it should therefore be deleted from the Arabic version.

5. While the King made no concessions whatever in the interview to “progress” or “liberalism” or “female emancipation”, this interview is nevertheless an opportunity to build morale by holding out a false promise of hope “just over the horizon”. We have “suggested” this spin to the editors of our national newspapers. They have responded extremely well. For example, the “Arab News”’s Abdullah Wins Applause for Assurance on Women Driving is an excellent example of how to build optimism out of the meaningless words "some day"; together with the right measure of deference. If any of your newspaper contacts would like to run similar headlines, we can supply a range from the "touchingly naive" to the "cloyingly sycophantic".

A. M. Al Shegri
Press Secretary
Royal Palace

(Religious Policeman's note: These are the actual changes that were edited into the Arabic transcript of that interview. Thanks to "Jeff" for pointing this out to me in this article in "The New Republic".
The rest of the memo's contents are speculative)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Mystery Movie 

If there's anyone out there who can help me with this, I'd be grateful.

The following item in "Asharq Alawsat" caught my eye.

Two US Production Companies to Film Documentary about King Abdullah

Two American companies are preparing to produce a documentary that centers on the life of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. The film would also focus on the King's relationship with the late King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, the support given to Islamic and Arab issues and their joint efforts in strengthening Saudi-American ties in the fields of politics, social affairs and economy.

Funny, I thought, I don't see any mainstream US film company making that sort of movie. Particularly when it is going to ".... also feature footage demonstrating the support of the two Kings for human and social issues". It sounds more like another info-mercial that the Saudi Embassy in Washington might put out and hope that some gullible network will run it for free. But perhaps there are real movie companies involved?

The documentary will be produced by the Advanced Media Corporation owned by the Saudi writer and journalist Abdulkarim Al-Falah who is currently living in the United States, in cooperation with the American company Vision Direct. Discussions are taking place to select the appropriate director for the production and three directors have been nominated by the two companies. The candidates are American Eric Fence and Kenny Stewart, as well as the American of Iraqi origin, Luay Abdul-Karim.

The funny thing is, when I Google all those names, I get an almost complete blank. Sure, there is an Advanced Media Corporation, but it makes DVD's (the physical discs, not movies). There is a Vision Direct, but they mail-order contact lenses. And the only personal name that gives a match with anyone in the movie business is Kenny Stewart; however I found him on a DVD for a movie called "Afternoon Delight" where the description started "If you like hot young and hung studs", so he doesn't sound like he has quite the appropriate experience.

I'm not in the US movie biz, so perhaps I'm just displaying my ignorance of the "players". That's why I'm asking if anyone knows of them. Otherwise I'm forced to conclude that a Saudi apologist propaganda movie is going to be released, disguised as some sort of genuine mainstream biography.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Two Princes discuss the interview 

King Abdullah and Prince Naif are sitting in the King's "Home Cinema". The King has the remote in his hand, and keeps playing and rewinding bits of the "Saudi King Abdullah Talks to Barbara Walters" interview. On the table between them stands a bottle of Jack Daniel's Master Distiller, with a gift label that says "Thanks for a wonderful interview - Barbara", and each is sipping a glass appreciatively. However, something is bothering Naif.

N: You know, I think the Americans do it just to wind us up. First they send some black woman piano-player to lecture us, now they send a blond Jewess to ask you impertinent questions. If she were one of my wives, I'd slap her round the mouth.

A: Naif, relax, it's cool. No problem, really. The main thing is - always choose who interviews you. I'd never do an interview with Naughtie or Humphries or Mair on BBC Radio because those guys are like Rottweilers, they never let you go, plus they're smart. But these American so-called celebrity interviewers, they think it's all about them, not about the other person. Look at her simpering at the camera with her "Look, it's me, I'm interviewing a real King" expression on her face. Look at the expression. Is that a "Wait till I hit you with this tricky question" look, or a "Is my hairdo still looking as wonderful as it should because this dry Riyadh climate is really bad for the follicles and I'm five thousand miles from my stylist" sort of look?

N: So you didn't find it a hard interview?

A: About as hard as going five rounds with a Teletubbie. Look at this opening (clicks the remote)

WALTERS: I understand that now that you are king, you prohibited your subjects from kissing your hand. Were you embarrassed to have your hand kissed?

What a stupid question! Like one of those teen programs - "Are you embarrassed when you go on a first date with a boy and he puts his tongue into your mouth?" Naif sniggers. Mind you, I'd figured that at her age, the only real kissing she'll do will be talking about it. So I gave her a shot of Al Saud charm - all white teeth and twinkling brown eyes - and sure enough, that put her right off her stroke. She forgot what she was going to ask me, and went back to the mating rituals of the 1930's college girl.

WALTERS: When you visited President Bush this past April, there were photographs of you and the president holding hands. This is not a gesture common among American men. Did it have significance?

Abdullah puts on mock-simpering voice "Yes, it signified that we'd been going steady for two months, and he'd shown enough respect not to try to bite my neck or put his hand down my blouse, so I was going to give him my sorority pin" Naif almost chokes on his Master Distiller. He recovers.

N: But that awkward question about Iran? Abdulla works the remote again.

WALTERS: Let's talk about Iran … Iran has become more powerful as a result of the turmoil in Iraq. Do you see that as a concern for Saudi Arabia?

A: Naw. Because she thinks this interview is all about making her look good, not catching me out. So what do you do with a 76-year-old woman who dies her hair blond? You make some cheesy flattering complement, she goes all wobbly and forgets the original question.

ABDULLAH: The questioner is often times more knowledgeable than the questionee.

WALTERS: (Laughs) So, you are not worried ....

N: I must say, I did enjoy the bit about Democracy.

WALTERS: President Bush has said that one of his goals is to spread democracy in your region. Is this realistic?

ABDULLAH: If you look at democracy in the United States, you will see that it took many, many, many years to develop.

A: My answer is complete bollocks, of course, but I just flashed my smile at her and it sailed by her completely. Anyway, she was now building up to her BIG QUESTION, the one we could spot kilometers away, which was of course (both Princes now stand up and do that silly finger quote thing together, and intone) - W-o-m-e-n D-r-i-v-e-r-s! (They sit down again, giggling. Abdullah flicks the remote).

WALTERS: A flash point for Westerners is that Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive. It seems to be symbolic of a women's lack of independence. Would you support allowing a woman to drive?

(Abdullah simulates a big yawn. Naif does a rude gesture involving his forefinger and both lips.)

ABDULLAH: I believe strongly in the rights of women … my mother is a woman, my sister is a woman, ...(Naif has by this time got out a large white handkerchief and is dabbing his eyes with extravagent gestures)...my daughter is a woman, ...(and is joined by Abdullah doing the same thing)....my wife is a woman.... (Both are now giggling helplessly as they wipe away the mock tears)....I believe the day will come when women drive.....

(Naif starts his awful Christina Aguilera impression

Ooh, ohh yeah yeah, ohh

I said one day, our day, will come

One day, our day, will come

Ooh, and nothing can stand in our way, oh

Ohh, said nothing, nothing can, stand in our way....

Abdullah waits patiently for him to finish)

......In fact, if you look at the areas in Saudi Arabia, the deserts and in the rural areas, you will find that women do drive.

A: Of course, that's only because your cops can't be bothered to go after some old Bedu woman in a truck who's gone up the other end of the wadi to fetch a stray goat. But that seemed to satisfy her - see what I meant about being punched by a Teletubby?

WALTERS: Terrorism to some degree starts with extremism, and there are people who feel that the educational system here in Saudi Arabia has in the past contributed to extremism and hatred. When we were here three years ago, we found textbooks that called for the killing of Jews. What is being done to stop this … extremist teaching?....changed your textbooks?

ABDULLAH: Yes, we have. … We have toned them down.

WALTERS: Toned them down …

A: Now if I wanted something to repeat everything I said, I'd buy a friggin' parrot. But by this time, of course, the old dear has totally lost it. We never changed the textbooks, but she's not spotted that, she's so worried about her hair drying out under the lights that she's completely lost the plot and is reduced to repeating what I say - it's like watching one of those zombie movies.

N: So what was your best bit?

A: Well by this time, I was wondering what I'd have to say before she tried to pick me up on my answer or catch me out. I was looking for a question where I could say something really outrageous and she still wouldn't spot it, something where I could really take the p*ss out of her.
(Fiddles with the remote)

WALTERS: In this country, however, you cannot practice a religion other than Islam publicly, although there are 5 million foreigners in this country.....

A: OK. Here's my opening....

ABDULLAH: Public worship is not allowed — you are correct — because Saudi Arabia, as you know, is the birthplace of Islam. To allow the construction of places of worship other than Islamic ones in Saudi Arabia it would be like asking the Vatican to build a mosque inside of it.....

WALTERS: The Council of Foreign Relations reported last year....

A: There she is, off on the next question on her script, and my most fatuous statement has just sailed right by her. The Vatican is 0.44 square kilometers in size, they haven't even got room to build a new public toilet there, never mind a mosque; we on the other hand, have 2 million square kilometers! I've just said something completely ludicrous and she doesn't even bat a false eyelash. So I rather lost interest after that. It was just too easy. She enjoyed it, though - it's another picture to put on her wall, and that's all she cares about at the end of the day. Still, she does pick a good bottle of whiskey...

N: So she does. Anyway, I've got a good joke for you -

What do you tell a Saudi woman with two black eyes? - Nothing. You've told her twice already!

(They giggle again)

A: I know a Blond Joke

N: Yes?

A: Barbara Walters!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Today's Lesson 

In his comments on the previous post, "Lehihamra" tells us of his experiences in teaching English to some of our finest and brightest.

I did have one class that was straight after their Islamic Studies class, and it led to several interesting questions from the more 'sinful' students who decided to use English:
"Teacher, what is a Freemason?"
"Why do you ask, Khalid?" (Not wanting to get drawn into THAT conversation)
"If I find one, teacher, I will kill him!"
"That's nice, Khalid, now, page 73, The Passive. The freemason has been killed by Khalid. How would you put that sentence in the Active?"

It's appropriate, therefore, to look at the Freemasons. Perhaps you thought they were just men who used builders' aprons and rolled-up trousers as an opportunity to get away from their wives once or twice a month. Far from it. From Hadith and Islamic Culture, Grade 10

Freemasonry. This is a secret Jewish organization working covertly for the realization of the Jews’ greatest interests. Freemasonry is a deceptive word which deludes the hearers to believe that it is a noble vocation, for its meaning is ‘the free builders’. Its motto is ‘liberty, fraternity, equality’

So is it the same as Zionism?

Zionism is connected to Freemasonry, but Zionism is purely Jewish in its form, style, content and membership and serves the Jews’ goals directly. It is the official executive apparatus of world Jewry. As for Freemasonry, it is inwardly Jewish. It raises general humanitarian slogans, and non-Jews may rally under its banner. It is a secular, atheistic and secret movement that serves the Jews indirectly. It is the hidden force which creates the opportunities for the Jews. Therefore Zionism uses it for the realization of its goals.

So the ultra-clever Jooos are manipulating the ultra-stupid Freemasons for their own ends. How devious. No wonder Khalid wants to kill them. If you ever meet a guy called Khalid, never give him a funny handshake.

It's probably safer to join the Rotary Club or the Lions. Congenial company, enjoy a meal together, raise money for world charities. Or perhaps not; it seems there is a Fatwa.

The Islamic Juristic Assembly in Mecca headed by the late Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hamid passed in its session of 10.8.1398 AH, corresponding to 15.7.1978 CE, a legal ruling which determined that Freemasonry and the clubs that belonged to it, such as the Lyons and Rotary, are among the destructive organizations that were most dangerous to Islam and the Muslims. Anyone who is a member thereof while being acquainted with their true nature is an unbeliever in Islam and should be avoided by his family.

That should now be clear to everyone. Time for today's test.

1. (i) Lions International has a worldwide program to counteract diseases affecting sight, and to distribute more than 5 million pairs of eyeglasses a year to the needy.

(ii) Rotary International has now financed the immunization of 24 million Indonesians, mostly Muslim, against polio.

Choosing ONE of these examples, explain how the organization is furthering the Satanic objectives of International Zionism.

2. During the notorious "Profumo Scandal" in Britain in the 1960's (Common Era), during a party at the Clevedon stately home of Lord Astor, a "member of the British Peerage" was observed bringing round drinks on a tray, wearing nothing but a Masonic Apron. Was this:

(i) A post-modernist satirical statement?

(ii) A nudist taking sensible precautions with hot glasses of fruit punch?

(ii) Clear evidence of the linkage between Freemasonry and the imminent collapse of decadent western Unbeliever society?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Nightmare on Olaya Street 

Al Mamlaka (Kingdom) Shopping Center on Olaya Street in Riyadh. Opened three years ago, the country's newest and swishest Mall, as modern as anything you'll find in the world.

A group of young men relax in the Food Court.

We sat at the food court. A few minutes later, most of the employees at the mall came and sat there. They were chatting, smoking, and killing time, waiting for the prayer time to end so they can go back to their jobs.

What happened next? What dark menace with Medieval overtones made lots of healthy young men suddenly run away in terror? I'll give you a clue. It was something to do with the man in the top right corner of this blog.

Read the full gripping tale from "Saudi Jeans" here.

Back to school 

I am grateful to "Eva" for bringing this article, about the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, to my attention. It's about their work, looking at school textbooks in different parts of the Middle East. As it says

When governments take responsibility for publishing school textbooks, such books invariably reflect what the leaders of that society want children to believe......CMIP found that the Israeli textbooks actively promote education for reconciliation, tolerance, and peace. They present Islam in a "positive light," with factual explanations of its doctrines. They describe the Palestinian cause as a national movement. They do not promote hatred or violence toward Arabs.... The textbooks published by Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, however, use negative stereotypes to portray Jews. Their maps of the region do not include any mention of Israel; its territory is usually described as "Palestine." The Arab textbooks present Jews as treacherous usurpers throughout history, with no rightful claim to nationhood. They describe the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an authentic historical document.

The CMIP site has got a load of archival material of textbooks from many countries. I'll look at Saudi Arabia's in detail in a series of posts. Some people are having way too much fun in this blog, and now is the time for some serious education. So sit down, be quiet, stop wriggling and pay attention.

Today, we're going to talk about the West and its pernicious effect on our society. In particular we'll look at the way in which those outside, and even inside, would like to influence our country.

This is a set of examples of Western-inspired decadence, from a Grade 10 textbook on "Biography of the Prophet and History of the Muslim State" . And no, I did not make them up myself.

1. Calling for male and female mixing in the spheres of work, education and other fields of public life.

2. Opening dance halls, amusement centers and other types of cheap entertainment. *

3. Abolishing the veil and showing the unveiled face.

4. Establishing interest-based banks, encouraging people to conduct interest-based businesses and advocating that. **

5. Cramming the markets, radio and television with vulgar stories, literature and songs.

6. Emulating the Westerners in their holidays: birthdays, Mother’s Day, May Day, etc… not to mention the revival of Zoroastrian or ancient holidays such as the Nowruz [Persian New Year’s Day] and Shamm al-Nasim [Egyptian Spring Festival]. ***

7. The tendency among the educated sons of the Arabic language to speak among themselves in a modern European or American language, instead of their own national language, in order to show off the extent of their education.

8. The practice of many well-off Muslim families to send their sons to local missionary schools and colleges, instead of sending them to national educational institutions. ****

9. Introducing Western political institutions such as political parties and parliaments into the Muslim societies, which have resulted in tragedies and fragmentation among sons of the same society. *****

* This is encouraging, because it does raise the possibility in the future of opening places of entertainment, as long as they are not "cheap". For example, opera is not cheap. Neither is a Michael Jackson outdoor spectacular (or perhaps it is these days).

** Too late. The Wahabbis failed to influence the government here. All Saudi banks charge and receive interest. Even the so-called Islamic banks receive interest, only they call it "profit" or "charges" or some such euphemism.

*** These days are of course not the same as the recent Saudi National Day, which we recently celebrated. Our National Day is totally different, for obvious reasons which I won't patronize you by explaining.

**** "Local Missionary Schools" may conjure up a vision of rosy-cheeked nuns dispensing equal quantities of medicine, education and Christianity. Sadly, this is not so. I'm guessing (because I was fortunate enough to miss most of the Saudi education system) that it refers to the "National schools" e.g. the American School, British School etc. These are primarily for the expats of those countries, but other nationalities (including Saudi if they have loads of "wasta") like to send their children there if they get the chance. The Wahabbis would love to close them down. As the bomb-threatened Westerners leave, this may happen of its own accord.

***** The only country in the Middle East which has such a functioning democracy, whose name escapes me for the moment, is not Muslim, so I haven't a clue what country they are referring to.

I hope you are still paying attention. There's going to be a test at the end and you can't go home until you've completed it.

Let's talk more about Western society. From Biography of the Prophet and History of the Muslim State, Grade 10, (2001)

Here we are today witnessing another experience that leads to another deterioration: The Western civilization, which has lost the meaning of spirituality, finds itself in its turn on the verge of an abyss. It is a civilization on its way to dissolution and extinction.

Examples? Well, there's suicide. From Islamic Jurisprudence, Grade 10, (2001)

The abundance of suicide cases in Western societies is surely because of their great distance from the true divine source. In the light of the exaggeration on the part of some Muslims in praising those societies, while they pay no attention to their bad side, we thought it advisable to discuss the suicide issue, because of its danger, being part of the premeditated murder category.

We don't have a suicide problem in Saudi Arabia. Any potential suicides, we export them to Iraq. Or put them on a plane in the USA.

Some of the questions for discussion are quite difficult. From National Education, Grade 9, (2000)

Your friend wants to travel outside the kingdom as a tourist and you want to convince him to desist from doing so. What are the justifications that you would mention in order to convince him to abandon his travel idea?

Possibly the answer is to warn him of the risk of

....sodomy is a prominent reason for being afflicted by dangerous diseases which spread in society. Among these diseases – the infectious AIDS disease which has disturbed the West and robbed them of their sleep, to such a degree that they have demanded the isolation in designated places of those who are afflicted by sexual digression.

Better stay at home. We do have AIDS in Saudi Arabia but we don't talk about it, so you won't catch it.

But for those who accuse us of not being modern and technological, we do have a Principles of Computer and Data, Grade 10 syllabus. And we love computer games.

Some of these games contain false beliefs or misleading ideas or detested behavior. Some of these games glorify wizards and appoint them as your assistants in reaching the treasure, or may present a person in a priest’s appearance who sets out to save you from your predicament and bring you to safety.

OK, now for the test. Let's see who's been listening, and who's been looking out of the window.

1. What happens when you get male and female mixing ?

2. Name one Saudi bank that does not charge interest.

3. Why is Saudi National Day completely different from:
(i) May Day?
(ii) Mother's Day?
(iii) Ancient Zaroastrian holidays?
(iv) Maundy Thursday?
(v) Yom Kippur?

4. Why is sinful to speak English?

5. Why are you a bad parent if you send your child to a "missionary school"?

6. Name one Middle Eastern Muslim democracy, and explain why it is failing.

7. Why are suicide and AIDS an exclusively Western phenomenon?

8. The British Navy of the 1800's (Common Era) was described as being based on "Rum, Sodomy and The Lash". Which:
(i) Two of these do we consider sinful?
(ii) One of these do we consider a Good Idea?

9. You have been on your computer game for the last 7 hours. You keep phoning Domino's for another Pizza, which the Indonesian housemaid brings to your room, and you have now got to level 22. Suddenly a character appears on your screen. He says his name is "Izzy Cohen", and he can help you get past level 23 and via the secret passage all the way to level 27. Do you:
(i) Gratefully accept his offer of help?
(ii) Ignore him and have another slice of Pizza?
(iii) Zap him with your Neutroid gun, because with a name like that, he's possibly not a member of your tribe?

Imagine being a woman... 

...in Saudi Arabia. Especially if you don't have a kind and sympathetic male relative, because you need one to get written permission to do a lot of things that most women elsewhere in the world would take for granted. Things like travelling abroad, doing studies; even business documents, although you may own the business yourself.

Faroohah Sowaleef, who has appeared in this blog and its comments threads on a number of occasions, is studying to be a linguist and translator. And she has done the blogsphere a genuine service by translating an article into English, that describes the tribulations of this enforced female dependence on the male relative, and the various other downsides of being a Saudi female. The original article is by a Saudi female columnist called Badria Al Bisher.

It's grippingly poignant in the way it describes the cruelties that some women face from their "nearest and dearest". Look at this example.

Imagine you were a woman, and this guardian of yours is your 15 year old son. Imagine he were your brother, who scratches his chin in hesitation before signing any of your papers, and may even tease you degradingly. Imagine this brother of yours asking you for "what may make things slide" (an expression used to refer to bribery). He may be too much of a man to ask for it in cash, as no man with any pride can take money from his sister, but this pride of his won't stop him from asking for a car, a fridge, or a warranty that you will be paying his monthly bills until times are better for him. And in most cases, they never will be better for him, they'll only be causing you more and more trouble.

Before you look at the full thing, just a couple of explanations.

The term "Mashallah" literally means "as God wills" but in reality carries a wealth of superstitious meaning. Its full translation would be "I am congratulating you on something but the mere act of congratulation may bring down the envious "evil eye" on whatever is being congratulated, so I will also invoke God's protection for it."

Saudi taxi drivers are usually from the remoter parts of north-west Pakistan. It's a tough job because there is an excess of supply over demand, so it's hard to make ends meet. Walk down any Saudi street and these guys will constantly "beep" at you as they go past, in the hope that you may flag them down. However, they keep on coming over, and there are two other problems with that:
- their Urdu is a lot better than their Arabic, English, or any other language.
- their knowledge of the geography of your town is rudimentary; they know the airport, major hotels and shopping centres, but hardly anywhere else.
So you are not hiring a knowledgeable guide to the local area, but a paid driver whom you have to direct to your destination in whatever words of whatever language you have in common. (Having said that, if you are a Westerner coming in by air, always go to the official taxi booth outside, where there will be a Pakistani guy with reasonable English who will get you a driver and explain to him where to go, and agree a fare - don't get waylaid by one of those Bedu-type drivers in the concourse who will try and grab you physically and lead you to their dangerous and uninsured heap of metal with no meter, in the hope that you will pay their enormous and arbitrary charge).

I've gone on long enough. I'd advise you to read the whole article, in spite of the annoying pop-up adverts on her site. You can find the translated article here.

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