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.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 

Various reactions from Saudis to the Christians' celebration of Christmas in the Kingdom.

The Good

They wish me a happy Ramadan and Eid, so why shouldn't I wish them a Merry Christmas? asked Khaled Dossari, a physician. I don't believe in Christmas, but I reciprocate their friendly gestures.

My Arab colleagues are very kind to me. They wish me Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Valentine's Day every year, said Sarah Williams, an English language teacher. It is nice. Some even give me small token gifts. It really helps to cope with being so far from family during the holidays, said Williams.
I know that they say Merry Christmas to be polite and not that they believe in Christmas just as I say Ramadan Mubarak doesn t mean I am Muslim, explained Williams.

The Bad

As long as it's not in public and can not lead to corrupting the youth, I am fine with it, said Ghada Dareeb a Saudi teacher. But I would never ever attend any of their celebrations.

It is forbidden for Muslims to celebrate non-Muslim holidays, said Khaled Al-Shaya, an Islamic scholar. When invited to their Christmas parties at work, it is ok for Muslims to pay them respect and party with them as long as they do not wish them Merry Christmas and they inform their hosts that they are not celebrating Christmas for religious reasons but as a personal gesture, said Shaya. But the best action is not to join in with their celebrations.

The Ugly

...the Presidency of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Riyadh has been more active in preventing shops catering to these non-Islamic occasions. It has been more and more difficult in finding Christmas decorations and cakes in the past two years, said Down Tucker, a South African teacher. This year they are hardly found.

The Presidency of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Riyadh declined from commenting, but store managers have confirmed that they have been visited weeks before Christmas and were told to remove their Christmas Holiday merchandises.

We are also expecting a visit on Dec. 25 too as they annually do, said a supermarket manager who wished to remain anonymous.

Everywhere else in the world, you expect a visit from Santa on December 25th. In Saudi Arabia, it's a visit from the Muttawa. We sure know how to party.

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