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.
Thankfully, Saudi cartoons these days are laying off the "Ugly Jew Motif
". It would be nice to think that the Internet publicity they received has caused the Saudi papers to clean up their act, but I suspect we'll have to get past the possible impending demise of Ariel Sharon before we can be certain of that.
However, for the moment, they are much more harmless. Here is an example from the "Saudi Gazette". It is a fine example of the "Smug Hypocrisy" school of Cartoonry. It depicts President Bush, as a fireman, dousing the flame at the top of the Statue of Liberty. The symbolism implies that he is quashing freedom in the USA. It no doubt refers to the current wire-tapping controversy over there.
The characteristic of the "Smug Hypocrisy" school is that it allows us to poke gentle fun at another country, in this case the USA, at the same time feeling vastly superior ourselves. Whilst no one is going to get a hernia laughing at it, it can nevertheless be enjoyed on its own terms. However it is best not to dwell on the fact that
- in Saudi Arabia, wiretapping is a fact of life, both telephone and Internet, by many security agencies, without so much as a "by your leave".
- Saudi Arabia does not have the equivalent of a FISA Court, to approve government requests for eavesdropping. If it did, it would be headed by graduates of the Imam University, desperately looking thru their Qurans for references to "Electronic eavesdropping" and "Internet Server". Not that it would make any difference, because the answer would always be "Whatever".
- In Saudi Arabia, there is no forum where we can even discuss the rights or wrongs of wire-tapping. The only way to make your views known is to pick up the phone, dial a bank call center where you are forever on hold, and explain your views to the recorded message. There's bound to be someone listening in, who will take careful note and pass a transcript to the powers-that-be.
- In Saudi Arabia, if you publicly urge any reform, especially if you use "Western Idioms", you can get gaoled for nine years
- If your lawyer criticizes the inadequate legal process, he'll go to gaol as well for his temerity. For all of you, your only hope of getting out early, is for the King to die and the next one to issue a general pardon.
Now that' s out of the way, let's all have a real good belly-laugh.