07 February, 2008

Saudi Arabia and cultural relevatism

The Muttawa in Saudi Arabis (KSA) have recently arrested a woman who was sitting in Starbucks having coffee with an unrelated, male business partner.

For background, all public restaurants in KSA have at least two areas. One is for single people, the other for families. In the family area, mixing is allowed so long as it is between men and women who are within the permitted levels of relationship. The muttawa are the Saudi religious police - their full title involves the words 'vice' and 'virtue' which is probably all you need to know!

I don't quite know how to respond to this. Whilst I think a law prohibiting mixing is silly, and whilst I think that if a country thinks that such a law is required should have merely given the woman a verbal warning and/or asked her to sit elsewhere in the restaurants, I am left asking what on earth was the woman doing? She's lived in the ME for a while; from the sounds of it, she comes from a Muslim background; I cannot believe that anyone doesn't know that KSA is completely crazy over things like this and last time I checked, there were signs up in most of the restaurants explaining the crazy law.

The gender apartheid in KSA is utterly unacceptable, but you have to question what on earth teh woman was thinking of.


On the same story, the above link is to the Times. This one is Arab News. I find the different reporting styles interesting.

1 comment:

Alex said...

On the subject of cultural relitivism, check this out:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7232661.stm