Reform Comes to Riyadh

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This is it! The turning point!

Saudi Arabia's religious police—long resented for intimidating people and meddling in the tiniest details of life—are being trained to be more courteous while enforcing the kingdom's strict Islamic law, says the head of the force.

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  1. Even when I still had religious beliefs, I never understood the point of using humans to enforce them. If God was truly offended by the existence of the World Trade Center, couldn’t he have handled the problem on his own? Imagine him talking to the Al-Qaeda terrorists on September 12, 2001: “Thanks so much for destroying that building yesterday! I’ve wanted it gone for the longest time, but I, being the all-powerful Creator of the Universe, was incapable of sending some lightning bolts to do my dirty work for me. I’m glad you guys came along to solve my problem.”

  2. Any constructive suggestions on what can be done to inch it further along in the right direction?

    Money. Open up the market more, make the people rich and eventually they won’t care about their god. Give them “Saudi Arabian Idol” and a Survivor series set in the Gaza Strip. A Jewish tribe and a Palestinian tribe. Heh.

    Give them the earthly trappings of a consumption-oriented society and they won’t want to blow anything up, because they’ll know there’s more stuff to buy.

  3. Well, as we know from our teachings: ‘the Lord helps those who help themselves’ right?
    It’s basic C.Y.A. No self-respecting religion ever let logic stand in it’s way.

  4. RST–

    Thanks to oil, they’re already rich. In fact, if you look at the history of the Arab region, this mass psychosis didn’t strike until they found the oil; until then, they were too busy making a living to try and force their beliefs on the rest of the world. Howard Bloom discusses this in his book The Lucifer Principle, an interesting study of the evolutionary origins of what we call ‘evil.’

    I am not advocating that these people be made poor again; I am simply pointing out that money is NOT the cure for all evil.

  5. So you’re asking yourself, “How can one be more courteous while enforcing the kindgdom’s strict Islamic law?”

    Here are some examples:

    PLEASE place your left hand on the chopping block, SIR.

    You are not permitted to drive because you are woman, MA’ME, and if I see your ankles, I’ll have to ask you to PLEASE stay still while I publicly whip you.

    If you keep asking for the vote, SIR, we’re going to chop your head off. THANK YOU.

    There, and you thought it couldn’t be done!

  6. Jennifer,
    As they say, idle hands are the tools of the devil. Does that mean Saudi Arabia is the Paris Hilton of geopolotics?

  7. until then, they were too busy making a living to try and force their beliefs on the rest of the world.

    Not counting hundreds of years spent conquering, or trying to conquer, the rest of the Mideast, Europe, and parts of Asia (including India).

  8. RC, this thread is not about the British.

  9. “As far as Gulf States are concerned I much perfer the UAE or Oman over Saudi Arabia. ”

    Why, is the food better?

  10. R.C. Dean,

    Muslim imperialism was no worse than European imperialism, or American (“gunboat diplomacy”) for that matter.

  11. JB – not arguing your point. Just correcting the record, that’s all.

  12. These folks deserve a biting Python skit.

    As always, Python delivers: “Never Be Rude to an Arab…”

    http://www.songlyrics.com/song-lyrics/Monty_Python/Monty_Python_Sings/Never_Be_Rude_To_An_Arab/192527.html

  13. Jennifer A, I actually bought that book, The Lucifer Principle, but did not recall it explaining wahabi “evil.”
    I think we can see oil rich countries as demonstrating the ruinous effects of too much of The Great Society.

  14. This is it! The turning point!

    Actually, it sort of is. Recognition by religious zealots that even “sinners” deserve to be treated with respect and dignity is a pretty big step.

    It also subtly alters the social relationship between the religious police and their victims; instead of the victims being treated as beneath contempt, they are being treated as equals — or, at least, as fellow humans — who have acted “wrongly”.

    “License and registration, please”
    “Sir, please step out of the car”

    Compare and contrast that to
    “Show me your papers.”
    “Get out of the car, now.”

    Yes, in both cases a person with power is giving you orders. But the very fact that the person with power feels obligated to, or is obligated to, treat you with respect, subtly teaches both parties involved that the police shouldn’t act with total impunity.

  15. It reminds me of a sound clip I found of Benny Hinn telling kids to deal with drug dealers by hitting them in the head with bricks. “Preach Jesus to them first,” he said. “Do it in love! Do it in love!”

    Kinder, gentler holier-than-thou thugs… yeah right.

  16. Reminds me of a Muslim verison of “The Water Boy”‘s mom.

  17. “In practical terms, the policemen roam malls and markets or lurk outside women’s schools and lingerie stores…”
    Apparently I was a muttawa as a teenager…

    Seriously, did the terrorists think that biting the hand that feeds them would work long term? The royal house of Saud has as much interest in Islam as I do, it’s just the device they use for control. As the extremists make that tool less useful watch it fall by the wayside. Hopefully this is just the first crack in the dam.

  18. As far as Gulf States are concerned I much perfer the UAE or Oman over Saudi Arabia.

  19. did the terrorists think that biting the hand that feeds them would work long term?

    Well, the ungrateful little bastards certainly bit our hand. We should have left them all at the mercy of the Soviet Union.

  20. Yes, more courtesy while herding teenage girls back into a burning house. That’s the ticket.

  21. These folks deserve a biting Python skit.

  22. While clearly the laws and how they are created (and by whom) need to change in the Kingdom, sometimes changing the manner in which they are enforced can help this change along. This is a small step but it does show signs that internal forces within Saudi Arabia are starting to move it (ever so slightly) in a more moderate and less repressive direction. As the police become less intimidating and oppressive, there is less fuel for militancy and forces that are more moderate might feel more likely to speak up and push for further changes.

    Any constructive suggestions on what can be done to inch it further along in the right direction?

  23. Thorley Winston,

    Nuke them? 🙂

  24. I’d like to hear what the new and improved thoreau has to say about this…

  25. This is a small step but it does show signs that internal forces within Saudi Arabia are starting to move it (ever so slightly) in a more moderate and less repressive direction.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see this as anything more than PR, designed to obscure the many ways in which they are not moving in the right direction.

  26. The glaringly obvious question I see is: who’s enforcing the “all men must attend prayer get-togethers” if all the men are at the prayer get-togethers?

  27. Ruthless–
    Not sure if anyone is going to be reading this posting so late, but just to clarify–no, Bloom never actually used the word evil, but the book discusses the root cause of behaviors considered evil or at least harmful–why do all the world’s successful religions have violent pasts? Why do men who already have more money than they could possibly spend screw widows and orphans to get still more? My use of the word ‘evil’ was basically a type of shorthand.

    As for the person who asked if Paris Hilton is an American Arab–nah. Paris Hilton hasn’t actually hurt anyone, and provides valuable amusement for us working folk. I’d rather live under a Hilton dictatorship that a Saudi one.

  28. “Muslim imperialism was no worse than European imperialism, or American (“gunboat diplomacy”) for that matter”

    Speak for yourslf, M. JB. Everybody else disagrees.

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