February 13, 2005

Isn't It Romantic


From Reuters: Saudi Morality Police See Red Over Valentine Roses. (Via Little Green Footballs)

Saudi Arabia's morality police are on the scent of illicit red roses as part of a clampdown on would-be St Valentine's lovers in the strict Muslim kingdom.

The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia's powerful religious vigilantes, have banned shops from selling any red flowers in the run-up to February 14.

Florists say the move is part of an annual campaign by the committee -- whose members are known as "mutawwaeen" or volunteers -- to prevent Saudis marking a festival they believe flouts their austere doctrine of "Wahhabi" Islam. ...

Valentine's Day, or the "Feast of Love" in Arabic, is beyond the pale in a country where women must cover themselves from head to toe in public and be accompanied by a male guardian. ...

The government-funded mutawwaeen patrol the streets of Saudi Arabia, particularly Riyadh in the Wahhabi heartland, ensuring women are covered and five daily Muslim prayers are observed.

Shopkeepers who fail to shut down for half an hour during each prayer risk a night in jail if they are discovered.

Despite government calls for them to show greater leniency, and some recent efforts to improve their own image, the bearded volunteers are not universally popular.

"The mutawwaeen are just backward," Ahmed complained. "It's the Saudi women who want these roses anyway."

Posted by Forkum at February 13, 2005 10:31 PM