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.
The Suburban screeches to a halt, tyres squealing, black clouds of rubber rising with the dust. Four pairs of spindly, hairy legs emerge, four dirty thobes, four ridiculous sticks, four long straggly beards that have never ever known the scented seductiveness of shampoo, deep inside which are the small dried-up memories of meals long forgotten.
But enough of the niceties. There's men's work to be done. The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are on a mission. To Promote Virtue. But before that can be done, all Vice must be Prevented. And there's serious Vice on the streets tonight.
What can it be? A Pakistani woman walking along the road with three strands of hair showing? In the mall, a Saudi family lingering in the food court during prayer time? A lonely Barbie Doll, pining for her Ken in the dusty corner of a shop at the tatty end of the Kuwaiti Suuq?
No. The truth is far more Sinful than that. So dark a Sin, it hardly dares speak its name. But that name is.....Snuff
Snuff, as in "Snuff Movie"? Like those grainy 30-second Afghan and Iraq .mpg's that the Imam University sickos like to watch and email to their friends, some poor soul having his head chopped off by a Muslim crazy with a sword?
No, worse than that!
But what could possibly be worse than that?
Snuff. Dried, powdered tobacco. You sniff it up your nose. Makes you sneeze.
Ah, that snuff! I see the problem!
Makkah Officials Bust Snuff-Making Factory
Officials of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice yesterday apprehended several Arab expatriates who reportedly manufactured and sold shemah (a snufflike substance which contains various ingredients) in the Al-Otaibiya district of Makkah.
The officials also seized more than two tons of the contraband from a secret manufacturing center in the city.
Now before you ask me why the Religious Police are going out and confiscating snuff, I haven't a clue. Although in this case, there were....
....several schoolboys carrying pouches containing a substance for sniffing....
....I don't know what the fundamental problem is. Kids shouldn't be buying it, any more than they should be buying cigarettes. It is a nicotine product, after all. But snuff is widely available for sale to adults throughout the world, especially posh tobacconists here in England. And anyway, why the Religious Police, Allah's own policemen?
I have four possible theories.
One. Some Prince has noticed that it's being manufactured in industrial quantities - two tons ready for distribution - and so wants to take over the action for himself.
Two. It's a Muttawa kneejerk. "Sin may be Fun, but Fun is definitely a sin".
Three. Our halitosic friends have just discovered this latest substitute for female company, and have decided to get a stash in to keep at Mutt HQ, alongside all the confiscated booze and porn.
Glug - glug. Uuurrpprr. Hey Ahmed, look at this one! Look at the overhang on her! You don't get many of those in half a kilo! Sniff........Aasschhoooo! Glug.
Four. (And this is the least likely). There is actually a religious prohibition on snuff. Now, the lads in Makkah 1400 years ago weren't exactly a bundle of fun, and once they got going on the polytheists and whores and sinners they turned the Arabian version of Las Vegas into the Arabian version of Amish country. But they didn't manage to prohibit things that had not yet been discovered or invented. So, to my knowledge, there is nothing in the Quran or Hadiths to prevent us sticking powder up our nose, except during Ramadan of course.
In fact, I'm so certain of that, I'll send a tin of the finest Friborg & Treyer Santo Domingo Snuff
to anyone who can demonstrate otherwise!