Head of CPVPV weeps, Head of NSHR talks

  • Sheikh Abdul-Latif Al-alsheikh, head of CPVPV, joins the growing crowd of weeping clerics, though unfortunately we don’t have a video of the incident. The tears were spilled during a meeting with his staff as he recalled a conversation with King Abdullah. Al-alskheikh said the king asked him to avoid using violence against citizens. Al-alsheikh also commented on the Nail Polish Girl issue, saying the story has been exaggerated. “The world is making airplanes and we are telling a woman to leave the mall because she is wearing nail polish,” he exclaimed.

Nail polish photo

  • Arab New interviews Moflih al-Qahtani, chairman of NSHR, to talk about the society’s latest report that was published yesterday. “Our report is in support of the Kingdom’s efforts worldwide to sustain its positive image among international human rights organizations,” he said. I thought the goal was to highlight the human rights situation in the country in order to improve it. Silly me.
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Bogus Trends

Trend stories are some of my least favourite kind of stories in the media. Even worse, many of these trend stories tend to be bogus. “The bogus trend story thrives thanks to the journalists who never let the facts get in the way when they think they’ve discovered some new social tendency,” says Slate’s Jack Shafer.

It is said that one is an exception, two is a coincidence, but three is a trend. However, when it comes to Saudi Arabia and its infamous religious police two is more than enough to make a trend, apparently. During the last week, international media went crazy over two little stories about attacks on the members of Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) aka Haia.

haya_logo_inverseMany reporters who worked on these stories from abroad called their sources in the Kingdom asking them the same question: Does this incident (and later these two incidents) indicate a shift in attitude by the public towards the religious police? Regardless of the answers they got, they somehow came out with pieces along the line that Saudi people have had it and are finally rising up against Haia.

Sorry to disappoint you guys, but I really do not think this is the case. The talk about a revolt against Haia is a gross exaggeration. What these stories suggest is not an anti-Commission revolution but rather a change in the press. Few years ago these kind of stories won’t make headlines; now they do. Local media cannot be blamed for hyping up Haia stories because, well, they sell. It is outside observers and self-appointed experts that should be blamed for falling for bogus trends.

Killjoy

Add this to their list of achievements: interrupting a nasheed concert for kids in Dahran Mall. Just look at how the policeman stole the mike from the performer’s hand. Impressive.

UPDATE: For those who asked about context, here is a story from yesterday’s al-Watan. The Commission spokesman said they interrupted the concert because the families area was very crowded. The concert was later continued. Does that change how you feel about the incident?

Petty Victories

Sabq talks about an email that has been circulating over the past few days. I have been trying to get a copy of this email with no luck so far. The email allegedly contains a list of what some conservatives consider achievements they have gained in the last six months. According to Sabq, the list includes:

  • Canceling movie screenings in Jazan, Taif, EP, and Abha.
  • Canceling the summer music concerts in Abha.
  • Canceling scholarships for talented female highs school students.
  • Canceling Onaiza cultural festival.
  • Canceling events for liberal thinkers Turki al-Hamad and Abdullah al-Ghathami.

There is no question that the conservatives have been enjoying a powerful push lately, and they are trying to take full advantage of this period by flexing their muscles as much as they can and in every direction. But seriously guys, this is pathetic. What’s next? Celebrating that you managed to cut the afro of three young men in Tahlia?

Untouchable

This YouTube video has been making the rounds online lately. The video allegedly shows a group of SABB employees dancing to a song in what looks like a party held by the bank. The short clip has caused an uproar on some blogs and forums, between those decrying the deterioration of morals and those who deemed it insensitive to thousands of people who lost their money in the stock market crash.

Reasonable people may ask: so the bank was having a party, what’s the big deal? Frankly, it is not a big deal, except for one problem that my friend Abdul-Majeed eloquently put here: a party like this shows that we have two different sets of rules in this country, one for the poor and commoners, and one for the rich and powerful. “It is only the poor and commoners who get watched, monitored and prosecuted by the Hay’a, while the others have their own places that the Hay’a don’t dare to even get near them,” he said.

Let me be clear, I have nothing against such parties. I am not social by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoy a good party, and as we can see in the video apparently the guys were having loads of fun. Good for them, but the question is: why they can shake their bums freely in a fancy hotel like it’s 1999, but those who want to enjoy a concert of acoustic rock get raided by the Hay’a?

It is this kind of hypocrisy and double standards that I can’t stand.

Excuse You?

The cartoon in my previous post from al-Riyadh daily has apparently caused some controversy and attracted many angry comments from their readers who thought the cartoonist has crossed a red line. Today the newspaper published an apology, and said the cartoon did not attempt to mock the religious police. “We would like to stress that the point of the cartoon are those who invade people’s privacy and question their behavior without a justification in a conservative society,” the paper added.

Invade people’s privacy and question their behavior without a justification in a conservative society? I’m sorry, but isn’t that what the religious police exactly do? Hmmm…