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Mutawaeen
June 12, 2003 9:44 PM   Subscribe

The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the infamous religious police of Saudi Arabia, have their own website. (It was these "mutawaeen" who caused the deaths of 15 schoolgirls last year.) The site displays forbidden items and has a handy web form for informing on immoral behavior. [Via Silflay Hraka, who provides a translation and directions for using the form.]
posted by homunculus (22 comments total)

 
I'm going to start smuggling Barbie products into Saudi Arabia for fun and profit.
posted by nyxxxx at 9:57 PM on June 12, 2003


Interesting that the URLs/links for each page on the site are all in English...
posted by davidmsc at 10:35 PM on June 12, 2003


Utterly, utterly amazing, thanks.

I think Orwell says somewhere in Nineteen Eighty Four, vis à vis the Thought Police, that "the overt act meant nothing, it was the thought that was fatal."

On viewing the mutawaeen site, I kept thinking that, as terrifying as Orwell's imaginings were, they pale to insignificance next to a control organisation so obsessive and so fearful that the coincidental and tangential appearance of a cruciform element in an anchor motif must be sanctioned.

I'm not unfamiliar with the Islamic injunction against the display of other faiths' insignia, but surely orthodoxy - even of the Wahhabist variety - can distinguish an anchor from a crucifix? Do the mutawaeen believe the average Saudi to be so impressionable, or so ripe for seduction, that the mere appearance of a line crossing another line at 90 degrees can tempt them from their faith?
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:49 PM on June 12, 2003


but hold on, an anchor might denote POSEIDON!
posted by badzen at 11:02 PM on June 12, 2003


My guess is that the anchor, etc., are banned to prevent Christian Saudis from using "innocent" symbols as underground indicators of faith. Either that or the mutawaeens are completely whacked.
posted by hippugeek at 11:06 PM on June 12, 2003


That does it. Saudi Arabia is next.
posted by son_of_minya at 11:17 PM on June 12, 2003


Brasil soccer jerseys are outlawed as well, I see. The terrorists have already won.
posted by MiG at 11:20 PM on June 12, 2003


It strikes me as incongruous that this site is on a dot com domain... is there an on-line shop there too? The domain is registered in Egypt, so I guess the mutaween lack the resources or know-how to do their own hosting: one wonders what success, if any, they might have had in regulating internet access.

I was once told that it is illegal for private individuals to own and use TV satellite dishes in Saudi Arabia... but that if such dishes are positioned discreetly, their owners are in little danger of prosecution, as the authorities are very seldom permitted access to private property. This hasn't stopped various members of the Saudi royal family from starting up satellite TV stations, or even whole networks, (such as the one I used to work for) that just so happen to broadcast over their country.
posted by misteraitch at 1:38 AM on June 13, 2003


I reported seeing a werewolf drinking a pina colada by trader vic's. I hope they put a stop to that.

And the reversed typing just threw me off. I hit the left arrow and the thing goes right. I hit the right, it goes left. I bet my complaint will be backwards to them.
posted by RobbieFal at 1:52 AM on June 13, 2003


Theocracy in action, doesn't seem that shocking, in fact if American Christian fundies had this kind of power I'm sure they would make the mutawaeen look like a bunch of boy scouts in comparision.

Seems to me everytime Bush appoints another "family-centric" conservative into a judicial post we're probably one step closer to creating a mutawaeen of our own.

Then again the mutawaeen have an external enemy: the west. They're fighting will be a losing battle against western influence.

More interesting is speculation in this article that the mutawaeen could be used to help enforce reforms in the Kingdom. Because of the mallability of religion and its connection to political authority it could be used as an agent for a positive liberalizing change if done under the cloak of, "Err, Mohammed actually meant it to be like this see..."
Anthropologist Saad Sowayan said the Saudi royal family would never scrap the morality squad because it bolsters their own rule, which has involved decades of absolute power.

But he added that the authorities could use the mutawaeen to advance reforms, as King Faisal did in the 1970s to push education for women and the spread of television.

"The government should choose people among the mutawaeen to justify reforms today. People will accept anything more readily if it is framed in a religious discourse," he explained.

posted by skallas at 2:15 AM on June 13, 2003


This guy copped it when his wife got busted.
posted by johnny7 at 3:05 AM on June 13, 2003


I added a note, just to help overload this possibly important information raking operation. If George Bush mentioned something, this could be embraced by both liberals and conservatives.
posted by Keyser Soze at 3:25 AM on June 13, 2003


Organized religion: Is there anything more beautiful?
posted by sharksandwich at 6:12 AM on June 13, 2003


Hmmm. I had Barbiedolls when I lived in Saudi, the trick is to have her fully dressed (gown) when you enter the country.

and MiG I don't think it's the Brazil soccer shirt in itself thats forbidden, but part of the symbols on it.
posted by dabitch at 6:34 AM on June 13, 2003


That especially nasty color scheme on the Saudi morality police website offends my cultural sensibilities; and don't they know that purple is the color of ambiguity?

Fools. They should have done it in black and white
posted by troutfishing at 7:02 AM on June 13, 2003


I got a nice chuckle out of the message he submitted. Great theme for a blog, too.
posted by coelecanth at 7:19 AM on June 13, 2003


Isn't one of the ideas behind religious belief that you do right as a choice, rather than doing so because the government forces you?
posted by tommasz at 7:22 AM on June 13, 2003


We really shouldn't judge these people too harshly. After all, Bush lied about WMD, ya know...
posted by jammer at 7:27 AM on June 13, 2003


The trick to smuggling things into Saudi when I lived there was to put it at the bottom of a duffel bag full of dirty laundry. And to put a lot of women's underwear near the top of the bag to fluster the customs officials.

Oh, and you became pretty good, even as a kid, at looking at the guys who were doing the searching and picking the line with the Guy Just Doing His Job rather than the Religious Zealot.

I think I've mentioned this before, but the only thing we ever had confiscated was the "I" volume of an encyclopedia set because it contained an entry for Israel.
posted by Cyrano at 8:15 AM on June 13, 2003


Just remember that email address, folks... it's disapprove@hesbah.com. Do as your conscience leads.
posted by TreeHugger at 10:00 AM on June 13, 2003


i have just used the handy web form to report sahib's egregious behavior in the camel pen last night.
posted by quonsar at 3:45 PM on June 13, 2003


Cultural sensitivity be damned. These guys are assholes.
posted by pooligan at 10:42 AM on June 14, 2003


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