I have been trying to avoid writing about the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice lately because, frankly, why beat a dead horse? But this one is just too good to miss:
Saudi Arabia’s religious police have announced a ban on selling cats and dogs as pets, or walking them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women, an official said on Wednesday.
Now I’m not particularly a fan of cats and dogs. My friends who are pet owners know this, and they usually keep their pets away when I visit them. It’s not like I have anything against these animals but I just have this fear of getting too close to them. Still, this decision is just idiotic.
But before we get more into this, let’s go back a little bit. This whole ban thing has actually started in Jeddah two years ago. At the time, Jeddah’s Commission said that young Saudis who go out in streets with their pet dogs are violating of the Kingdom’s culture and traditions, and allegedly causing distress especially to families with young children. Interestingly, and luckily for my friend Rasheed who has since moved to Abu Dhabi, the ban has never implemented. “All pet stores are still selling cats and dogs,” one pet owner told Arab News.
However, although Riyadh and Jeddah are two big cities in the same country, they can be quite different on matters like these. The Commission is much, much more powerful in Riyadh than in Jeddah and therefore I expect this ban to be fully implemented in the capital.
Of course it is needless to say how ridiculous this whole thing is. The reason the Commission presented for the ban is kind of a joke, really: “because of men using them as a means of making passes at women,” they said. So you go and ban dogs and cats? How about punishing those so-called men? I guess you are too busy invading people’s privacy and controlling their lives to bother with few men who use their pets to annoy others.
- My friend Grace notes the different takes between Saudi and American media.