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February 05, 2008



I understand the point of this post, Mick, but my attention was grabbed by these phrases which are like Freudian slips that offer a glimpse into the subsconscious of a culture (please forgive me for mentioning the F-word whom you despise:-)):

“They checked that I had nothing with me and threw me in the cell with all the others.”

"after some strings were pulled, Yara was out of jail."

She was thrown in a cell "WITH ALL THE OTHERS". And then "SOME STRINGS WERE PULLED". One wonders how many of those "others" had someone close to them who could also "pull strings" on their behalf.

And then this: "whose mother teaches Qur’an recitation to children."

Not teaching the Quran (to encourage thinking) but very properly "Quran recitation".

Mick H

Ah, but perhaps the point of my post included those tell-tale little phrases. I deliberately left in that line about the Syrian guy, "a devout Muslim whose mother teaches Qur’an recitation to children". And I was originally going to title the post "After some strings were pulled", but changed my mind.


Well, then, there is a double message there, one explicit outrage (putting a woman through the wringer for having coffee with an unrelated man),the other implicit (class privilege and religious biases peeping through the outrage).


Starbucks?! 'Nuff said.


"Family sections are the only places where men and women can sit together in establishments in Saudi Arabia. Officially, these sections are for families only, but in practical terms these sections — usually in international chains like Starbucks — become the only places where unrelated men and women can be comfortable that they won’t be harassed by commission members."

I don't think this conveys the reality, at least not as I found it. First of all, it is true that such establishments are the venue for non family meetings. I know that because the papers always had stories about such couples being arrested or establishments being raided or closed because of such events. Therefore the statement "they won’t be harassed by commission members" is only true in a relative sense.

The other missing element is the fact that in Saudi, women are accompanied everywhere outside the home. This might be by a older boy, a brother or a father but it is very rare to see a woman alone. In fact the only time I saw this was beggar women. This fact alone makes such liaisons very difficult. You've got to admire the ingenuity of any woman who manages to meet a male friend.

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