Saturday, June 12, 2010

No Kissing Allowed

Ihave a hard time trying to be upbeat and positive here in a country that is so restrictive for me as a Western woman - which makes it even harder to try to write about positive aspects of this society. There are many good things about living here. I feel very safe here, although I wonder why my husband is so paranoid my safety, for example, that he doesn't want me taking a taxi by myself just to go to the grocery store five minutes away. Overall I believe there is much less crime here than in the USA, but I wonder if that is because people live in fear of the severe penalties doled out for "crimes" that aren't even considered crimes in most of the rest of the world.



Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) are strictly prohibited here in Saudi Arabia. While being overly affectionate in public might make others feel uncomfortable and may push the limits of bad taste, are PDAs so bad that a person should be arrested, thrown in prison, and be lashed?

Al-Yom, a government owned newspaper here in Saudi Arabia, has reported that a Saudi man has been sentenced to 4 months in prison and is to receive 90 lashes for being caught on camera hugging and kissing a woman in a shopping mall in Riyadh. Another term of his punishment is that he will be banned from going to shopping malls for two years. It is not clear from the article whether the man and woman are related. Men and women are not allowed to date, not allowed to work together in most settings, and not allowed to socialize with one another in this country because of strict interpretations of Islamic law regarding gender segregation.

The religious police here have been known to whack a woman sharply with a stick on her ankles if her black cloak isn't long enough and routinely make sure that women are not wearing makeup out in public. There have been many reports of the religious police chasing down vehicles with men and women inside to make them prove that they are related. The religious police also object to women exercising and have closed down many women's gyms here in the Kingdom because they are "decadent" and only women "with no manners" would go to gyms to exercise - I still don't understand these reasons why and apparently neither do many Saudis.

This country still conducts public beheadings. So it's perfectly okay for people to view a spectacle like a beheading, but to witness a little peck on the cheek is too scandalous for anyone to bear here in this country. I read that a man who kissed his wife's forehead (because she had a headache) as he dropped her off at a mall was jumped and beaten up by the religious police. Is that just? Is that deserved? Something seems very wrong with this whole picture. Which is more offensive - seeing someone's head chopped off or witnessing a man kiss his wife on the forehead?

56 comments:

  1. It's horrifying and I don't know how you can tolerate it.

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  2. OMG! Be-headings?! That alone would deter anyone from committing a real crime... but affection?

    Susie, I'm glad you have this blog to debrief, vent, what ever you want to call it, because I think I would go a little nuts keeping all this inside. Too extreme for me. ;0)

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  3. Thats always struck me as strange.
    How on public transport and in public places actions of extreme violence can be shown and yet a mother cannot kiss her son. Wierd.

    During the Gulf War - a member of the US Army (female) was abused by the religious police for poor clothing choice (military fatigues) .
    They of course were not defending their country or religious beliefs against a potential attack from the non-religious government of Iraq - simply cruising around getting a daily dose of power by picking on what they hoped was a defenseless woman.
    She lifted one up so he was at her eye level and asked him what the problem was - he decided there wasnt any and left.

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  4. Hear, hear! Well said...just be careful!!! Can't you "get in trouble" for writing stuff like this!

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  5. Susie, you always have perfect posts!

    Really like this. But you know I always wonder WHY men do things like trying to meet a woman for coffee or "hug and kiss" her in a mall in a neurotic country like KSA?! When you know you are living in a country where all people are chattel and women are infantalized, why even take risks?

    I ran away from KSA in six months. I don't ever want to go back. But those who like it there and want to live there for whatever reasons should learn the big lesson by now - they are living in Orwell's 1984.

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  6. Hi Susie,

    beheadings? Really?? Has this been going on recently, or is it, as I hope, some sort of anachronistic law left in the books??

    I always appreciate the information you share in your posts -- can I ask, where did the pictures come from? If there's a reference, I didn't notice it. I'm curious if the picture of the injured man (ouwwww...) is related directly to the laws you talk about here. Any info available?

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  7. Hi Gaelyn - I've got to admit it's discouraging to read about things like this going on here all the time... makes me scared that my son or I might unintentionally do something that we think is perfectly normal but could be considered a crime here. Scary!

    Hi Angel - Thanks - I think writing does help me achieve some sort of balance here.

    Hi ThatsWhat - Love your story about the female soldier - thanks.

    Hi Andrew - I hope not. It's in the news and it's being talked about.

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  8. Hi Suroor - Thanks! I think that for the people who have grown up here and taught what's right and wrong, they are definitely taking a calculated risk by daring to behave in manners that are other than "acceptable." But for my son and I who don't really know what might be considered right or wrong, it's quite intimidating to live under this kind of pressure. As a hot-headed teen, my son doesn't always make the best decisions, and this really worries me.

    Hi Jess - I pulled the photo from here: http://www.muslimsdebate.com/search_result.php?news_id=4154
    It looks like it may just be color applied, I don't know. Just used it as it relates to the topic.
    Yes, public beheadings still happen here.

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  9. You know what is shocking to me, Susie? After all these years, people don't know what goes on in KSA. I always thought it was because I lived in the ME or knew people from certain countries. But no, it's not. I read the newspapers when I was a kid until now (ancient--well, sort of:)

    I appreciate reading your posts very much, though it is often discouraging--but as I said, not a shock at all. Sadly.

    Be well. (And safe.)

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  10. Hi susie,

    I have couple of points I want to make in defense of our way of living.

    On the lashing and beheading issue:

    I will come straight on what the islamic point of view on this. Firstly, its not mutiny on the bounty lashes with a wipe its actually a rather formalized humiliating gesture. the islamic law says he must hit the body as if he has a book under his arm he has to keep his elbow close to his body. its no way close to the picture you published above(I believe that picture is from Abu Ghareeb). now, on the beheading issue I would just say perhaps you in america have a similar capital punishment. Last year there was about 70 or 80 public execution in saudi arabia (thats how we keep our streets free of drugs) well you in america had 40 or 50. I know you are a much bigger country but theres States in America notably texas where I believe executions have increased and when you say its private well there are viewing chambers for execution and I know when Timothy McVeigh was executed the government rounded up 230 relatives of those who have died so they can personally witness the execution of McVeigh. The other day i read in chicago a man was taken into the execution chamber over half hour the doctor nervously shaking on his arm trying to get the needle into his vain and couldn't do it. now if i was in that situation I'd rather have my head cut off with one blow than that. I don't think Americans are in a position to lecture saudi arabia on this point.

    On the other issue:

    We in Saudi Arabia dont want any sexually related signs to be displayed in public and this is one of the our ways of how we try guarantee every child a loving father and mother.

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  11. hI SUSIE, Its a well known fact the religious police only pick on those they deem weaker than themselves. a few years back my sister visited us from the uk and we shopped in balad gold souke, my husband (saudi) told her no need for an abaya or hair covering just dress decently so she wore a long skirt and a long shirt. while we were looking at the shops the religious police came and started fighting with us and screaming at her, thing is he thought we were alone, but my hubby was walkiing with my dad a little bit behind. he approached the religious police and told them firmly. that my sister was a christian she didnt need to wear an abaya or hair covering as she was already dressed decently showing off no part of her body and this big righteous religious man begged my husbands apology and left us be...... if he hadnt of been with us, this guy would of seen fit to abuse us. but he knew he couldnt argue with my husband who was saudi and knew the rules.......

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  12. hi susie,

    i agree with the above commentator. until quite recently in western countries provocative adverts weren't as widely seen as they are now. a cople hugging in the street is undeniably sexually arousing to a spectator, especailly in a country where there is an absence of sexually related imagery. whilst this arousal may not be bothersome to others, to a practising muslim,looking upon something that provokesdesirous feelings constitutes adultery of the eye and is a type of being unfaithful to one's spouse or spouses.

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  13. AA, say what you will...what is so great about living in fear all the time? Some of the laws and traditions are over the top...you have to feel it too, even tho you may not be allowed to have an opinion. Would you like to switch roles with a woman and see how that feels? I can't imagine any man in that culture accepting the way women are treated.

    And Susie, after living as a family in the US for so long, how can your husband expect you to have any quality of life when you have been stripped of so many rights. You may feel safe, but I'll bet you are constantly wondering if you are doing something wrong. I imagine your son would like to return to the US for college...

    Obviously, there are many good things in your life, but what you have written about since I have been reading this blog leads me to believe that it's not easy to live in a world so different from your own.

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  14. Hi Susan - Thanks for your comment. My husband does not believe any of the things I read him from Saudi newspapers - he says it's all "made-up" news. Yet he's the first one to believe any outrageous story coming out of the West. I definitely think that many events are prevented from making their way into the news here, and that's why, to me, it seems that so many Saudis are in denial about what really happens here.

    Hi AbdulAziz - I appreciate your taking the time to explain and comment. I am against any kind of "cruel and unusual" punishment that physically harms someone, and I don't care where in the world it takes place. I also feel that whipping and beheading are barbaric practises. It would never be my desire to see a person put to death. Seeing a man kiss a woman, on the other hand, does not bother me.
    For a child to witness a religious policeman whacking his mother with a stick on her ankles, as opposed to seeing his father gently planting a kiss on his mother would certainly evoke entirely different feelings in the child. One says it's okay to assault women (not a great message that I would want MY son to get) and the other demonstrates love.
    I certainly don't understand what you are trying to say in your last sentence: "We in Saudi Arabia don't want any sexually related signs to be displayed in public and this is one of the our ways of how we try guarantee every child a loving father and mother." How exactly does this "guarantee" every child a loving father and mother? Can anyone really guarantee "every child" loving parents by disallowing PDAs? I don't think so.

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  15. "We in Saudi Arabia dont want any sexually related signs to be displayed in public and this is one of the our ways of how we try guarantee every child a loving father and mother."
    It seems to me it should be just the opposite. I child sees his mother and father being affectionate and feels safe and calm that all is well.

    Susie, I wonder how many close calls you've had? There is a young Saudi man I met a few years ago in Bahrain. My husband and I became quite close to him. When we went to Saudi and saw him again for the first time outside his office my first response was to give him a big hug. Fortunately he saw what I was going to do and quickly stuck out his arm and hand for me to shake. Thank goodness he did that.
    It was doubly strange and difficult for me when I visited Saudi. Having just come from visiting in Sudan where people always embrace and hug when meeting (both men and women)it ws hard for me to remember that I couldn't do it with my Sudanese/Saudi family. My husband and I generally walk holding hands and it was difficult for us to remember we mustn't do it.

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  16. Do you ever feel like you live in a country run by teenage boys who still think all girls have "cooties"? That is how it feels living in the "mini kingdom" of Kuwait.

    It is so weird fo me to go pick up my husband of ten years at the airport and not be able to hug him. He is my best friend! I think this is a completely appropiate display of affection.

    I often think that the sexual repression causes even worse behavior. For example young filipino women seem to be raped and tossed of rooftops with increasing frequency and the culprits are not found. I guarantee if they were Indian ex pats comiting the crimes they would be found!

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  17. Do you ever feel like you live in a country run by teenage boys who still think all girls have "cooties"? That is how it feels living in the "mini kingdom" of Kuwait.

    It is so weird fo me to go pick up my husband of ten years at the airport and not be able to hug him. He is my best friend! I think this is a completely appropiate display of affection.

    I often think that the sexual repression causes even worse behavior. For example young filipino women seem to be raped and tossed of rooftops with increasing frequency and the culprits are not found. I guarantee if they were Indian ex pats comiting the crimes they would be found!

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  18. Do you ever feel like you live in a country run by teenage boys who still think all girls have "cooties"? That is how it feels living in the "mini kingdom" of Kuwait.

    It is so weird fo me to go pick up my husband of ten years at the airport and not be able to hug him. He is my best friend! I think this is a completely appropiate display of affection.

    I often think that the sexual repression causes even worse behavior. For example young filipino women seem to be raped and tossed of rooftops with increasing frequency and the culprits are not found. I guarantee if they were Indian ex pats comiting the crimes they would be found!

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  19. Susie - please be careful. Especially as your husband ages. God forbid anything happens to him, but please make sure you both have Sharia compliant wills.

    I fear for you.

    I too cannot believe that people do not know about the corporal punishment here in Saudi.

    The commentor making the point about public executions is valid. I fully agree. Only countries that do not execute citizens can condemn those that do. However.... lashings are not delivered as described.

    Perhaps, Susi, you may want to do an article on what really happens in Saudi during a "stoning"?

    Please be careful.

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  20. Subhanallah. Sometimes these police just take it too far. Sure, I don't think long makeout sessions are appropriate in public (seriously, get a room!), but a quick, discreet kiss or hug between family members shouldn't be a problem. After all, Prophet Muhammad (saw) was known to get up and kiss his daughter Fatima (ra) when she entered a room. If the police are concerned about non-mahrams kissing or hugging in public, they should really give them the benefit of the doubt. Muslims are always supposed to assume the best in other people. These policemen really need to start practicing what they preach.

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  21. A Canadian ReaderJun 12, 2010, 8:53:00 PM

    Sadly, your posts consistently confirm in my mind that the Saudis are vicious misogynists. How you continue to live there is beyond me.

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  22. As a practicing Muslim woman, I condemn the outlandish things done by the Saudi government in the "name of Islam". Did you know that the Prophet (SAW)'s wife Khadija (RA) had MEN working for her, among them the Prophet (SAW) himself? She was an extremely wealthy business woman who would work with men on a day-to-day basis. Has Saudi Arabia forgotten that?!

    It angers me so much to hear such horrendous stories by what is supposed to be a "Muslim" country, but clearly isn't. Please don't judge the religion of Islam based on the actions of a bunch of pathetic followers. I don't think I could ever live in such a constrictive society such as that.

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  23. I saw some teenaged boys being punished in Medina for harrassing girls. They were whacked firmly on the upper part of their backs with a thin wooden stick...I'm sure it stung like heck, but would not have drawn blood or left lasting bruises. Sometimes lashing or beheading is exactly the punishment that is called for.

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  24. I challenge anyone to give an example of the Prophet punishing people for kissing. It is preposterous. So have the rules but please don't call them Islamic because they aren't.

    Oh, and if anyone thinks there are no drugs on the streets of Saudi, I have some beachfront property in Riyadth I'd like to sell you. And those same people might consider looking into where the babies in the orphanages are coming from?

    Segregation only creates, warped unsocialized individuals that lead to a sick overly sexualized society.

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  25. That is quite a different world there. Very unfortunate that this is a standard practice.

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  26. Ouch! Readig your blog it really seems to me KSA officals take Islam to an extreme. And have this sexual obbession or paranoia ;;; i mean I live in a Muslim country where public displays of affection are considered bad manners but to beat and whip? way too much.

    I agree with Muslim Girl calling some of the KSA laws in the nam eof Allah - give me break ... such segration from the mainstream of the world onmy creates such acts as homosexuality, rape, more drug abuse just to name a few ills of society. Sandy said it best 'oversexualized unsocialized' people.

    and as Muslim Girl these rules are not rules of Islam and should not be seen as example of Islam or Muslim country. I am sorry to say most of the world is looking to KSA as the muslim example.

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  27. Love and affection are hated in Saudi arabia.

    all pleasure is not alowed, including the happiness of loving and being loved.
    It is a way of keeping people under control. of keeping women under control. they want to keep people from thinking.

    And please, anything goes in the kingdom of hypocrisy! Drink, drugs, prostitutes, assignations, homesexual encounters, all vices happen here. they are just ignored.
    Saudi is a haven for homosexuals because all men want to get some, even if they are not really homosexual. But as they are all sexually frustrated they will take whatever booty they can get.

    A woman is not safe to walk the street her. Susie you could not walk anywhere safely at night. Women get abducted, raped, killed and left in the desert.
    you cannot even say all you want on a blog safely.

    All the segregation and dressing women up in garbage bags makes men get a hard one for the garbage bags. It does nothing but make men into sex craved maniacs.
    I have never been anywhere else where everything in society is so sexual. People here cannot think about anything without making it sexual. Everything is about sex.
    Women are not allowed to drive because if they did they would fornicate. Women are not allowed to work because that would lead to fornication. Women are not allowed to study certain subjects because that would lead to fornication. Women and men can't work together because that would lead to fornication. women and men cannot have a cup of coffe in a starbucks because that would lead to fornication.
    Women cannot go to gyms because that would lead to fornication.

    And covering women up in garbage bags objectifies them more as walking vaginas then any amount of sleezy western commercials can do.
    Even eight year olf girls get covered up in the black garbagebag-abaya.
    Because despite their young age they are ready for fornication.

    And they are because they are frequently sold to pedophile geriatrics in what is laughingly called ''Halal'' marriage.
    According to such parents this is a good thing because it keeps them safe from fornication.
    But not from rape by an old disgusting pedophile.

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  28. I hate that they deny me even the right to walk hand in hand with my lawful husband.
    Holding hands is NOT the same as fornication!
    Giving each other a kiss is not the same as fornication!
    Read somebody who claims men get a hard on just from looking at two people kissing each other is ample proof how mentally sick segregation has made people here.

    When we are in a normal healthy country we always hold hands! :(

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  29. Abdul Aziz-I think it's not the actual lashing itself (although that is bad enough) but the reason for the lashing punishment that makes it pretty ridiculous. And you cannot even compare the executions in the United States to public beheadings. The government did not "round up" people to witness McVey's execution. They were relatives of the victims of his crime and it was carried out in a private chamber. They were not random people walking down the street or gathered in a colliseum like some kind of a olympic event. Public beheadings are barbaric.

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  30. Susie, this is an interesting discussion. I agree with those who are concerned for your safety, and I wonder that you write so frankly on this blog. You have courage. You may feel safe, but your husband knows you are not if you are alone. He knows that because he grew up there. He is intimately acquainted with the Saudi masculine mind. I suspect there is much he shelters you from. May God bless you.

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  31. > Muslim Girl said...
    >As a practicing Muslim woman, I >condemn the outlandish things done by the Saudi government in the "name of Islam". Did you know that the Prophet (SAW)'s wife Khadija (RA) had MEN working for her, among them the Prophet (SAW) himself? She was an extremely wealthy business woman who would work with men on a day-to-day basis. Has Saudi Arabia forgotten that?!

    I do not want to get into religious debates.
    All I will say is, a woman could work and hire men in a pre-islamic arab culture.

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  32. Americans please do not forget this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching_in_the_United_States

    It was a public sport, where even kids could participate and take soveneirs of the lynched person (ears, nose..whatever).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Postcard_of_the_lynched_Jesse_Washington,_front_and_back.jpg


    At the turn of the 20th century in the United States, lynching was photographic sport. People sent picture postcards of lynchings they had witnessed. The practice was so base, a writer for Time noted that even the Nazis "did not stoop to selling souvenirs of Auschwitz, but lynching scenes became a burgeoning subdepartment of the postcard industry. By 1908, the trade had grown so large, and the practice of sending postcards featuring the victims of mob murderers had become so repugnant, that the U.S. Postmaster General banned the cards from the mails." [31]

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  33. I follow your blog with great interest, and I too am concerned about what your report, but admire you for reporting it.

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  34. It really bothers me when an Islamic woman publicly defends her religion when it is criticized for being degrading to women.

    Any Muslim woman who can [with a straight face] say that their religion is fair to women is delusional. [In all disclosure, I would say this to a Catholic woman, a Jewish woman, and any other woman who chooses to side with her religious captors.]

    When you associate yourself with a religion and then you decide to defend that religion, you better be prepared to defend all of the horrific things done in the name of that religion. It's as simple as that.

    Islam is disparaging to women. When women are doing well in a country or society, the nation or society as a whole benefits. This is fact. So, is there any wonder Afghanistan [for example] has been such a disaster for centuries? Women are treated like dogs there & mostly in the name of Islam.

    Shameful.

    I hope one day the women of Islam [and of many other religions around the globe] realize that by defending the religion that keeps their minds narrow & dictates their lives for them, they are only doing women as a whole an injustice.

    Thank you.

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  35. @JustCuffMe
    You are of course welcome to your opinion. As a Muslim woman I will defend my religion as I see fit. And it absolutely doesn't mean I have to defend all the horrific things done in the name of religion. Just because you decide the two must go together- doesn't make it true. If fact, perhaps you might take a course in basic logic- because that doesn't add up.

    I'm also quite certain my mind isn't any narrower than yours is, or that I am any more delusional. Though apparently you are a lot more arrogant since you think you could know something like that just because of my faith.

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  36. You're tending to focus on the flame and neglect the root cause of this problem.
    The ills of this society cannot be attributed to segregation. This region has practiced segregation for over one thousand years, yet the vices one witness here are but a contemporary phenomenon. How then can one point the finger at segregation? Twenty years ago most of these crimes weren't even heard of. I assert that our attention must be directed towards the ever-growing corrupt media which is being beamed into the houses of the populace and corrupting the minds of our generations. That is where the debate starts.

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  37. wow so many interesting points here:

    Trae - I agree with you 100% Authorities in the gulf will treat you very differently depending on whether you are a local/expat/ migrant worker/speak the language/know your rights etc

    I get a little frustrated by some comments here criticizing the US. Yes I know it's fun, here in Australia people love to poke fun at Americans. But if someone's knee-jerk reaction to criticism is to point somewhere else they are failing to take responsibility and acknowledge the issue at hand. Two wrongs don't make a right! Many Muslims today are trying to highlight that it is better to step-up and address the issues at hand and that MUSLIMS should condemn atrocities committed by other Muslims. This actually strengthens the religion, because then Muslims are seen to be just and fair, rather than ignoring/denying/shifting blame. The anger you feel by american injustice should ALSO be aroused by Saudi injustice! Evil and wrongdoing is equally bad no matter what country or religion it is linked to.

    On a side note Susie, did you hear about the saudi girl who converted to Christianity and had her toungue cut out and was burned to death by her father?
    I would be interested to see any post you wold write on apostasy.. I know it is a controversial subject but one that is always ignored. The common line is: there are no apostates from KSA/other gulf nation. I have posted recently (briefly) on my close saudi christian/apostate friends. My fiancee (from Emirates) is also an apostate.

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  38. So sorry, that is incorrect. Segregation has not always been practiced here. And 20 years ago they were not allowed to print "problems" in the paper, and people were more scared to talk about it. But yes, all this "corrupt" stuff was happening.

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  39. Hello Susie,

    Posts like this one make me think it could often be extremely challenging to go about daily life in KSA. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

    There are some subjects I would be terrified to touch upon in a publicly accessible blog if I planned to consider staying in KSA though, and the main one would be apostasy, especially if any misguided reader could possibly interpret such a blog to advocate for such a thing. I have heard that people can be subject to severe punishments or even the death penalty for perceived offences associated with apostacy.

    While it is all very well for those of us who are distant from KSA to encourage you Susie to speak your mind (and I think your posts are fascinating), we should also be aware that KSA is a very repressive country and those on the outside may be unaware of how much people can express themselves on certain subjects without fear of punishment.

    Wishing you all the best!

    Kristina

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  40. Kissing your wife's forehead is bad? Good grief! 90 Lashes? This is just evil, Susie.

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  41. KSA: RELEASE SHEIK AHMAD GUMI NOW
    This post is in support of a campaign to put pressure on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to release Sheik Ahmad Gumi. The medical doctor, ex-soldier turned cleric was arrested inside his mosque at Shara Mansir district of Mecca more than six months ago. He has not being charged to court neither was his offence revealed by the authorities. This in itself is against the tenets of democracy and indeed Islam. I for one do not believe that the Shari’a approves for people to be arrested and detained for months on end without any prospect of being tried in a court. If the Saudi authorities believe he committed some offence then they should put him on trial. They should also abide by the civil tenet of giving him bail so as to allow him to remain with his family until a verdict is reached. In my opinion any thing short of this is undemocratic and un-Islamic.

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  42. The point of this post was to highlight the huge and confusing differences here in KSA between actions that are viewed as acceptable out in public view, like public executions and whacking women with sticks, and actions that are viewed as unacceptable, like kissing and hugging.

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  43. Homosexuality is an "ill" of society (re: Heni's post)? News to me. How sad that people in this day and age still think so backwardly and insist on comparing it to actual harmful activity like rape and drug abuse.

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  44. Sorry for the above post on the incarceration of a Nigerian cleric residing and having his mosque in KSA. The Saudi authorities respected him to the extent of allowing him to be the Imam of the Shara Mansir district mosque in Mecca. Suddenly they changed their mind seven month ago and sent him to the slammer.
    I posted it here to bring the issue to your and your readers' attention. I am sorry if it upsets the agenda for your blog.

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  45. Is this acceptable.
    USA: First execution in 11 years scheduled in Utah: Ronnie Lee Gardner

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  46. Sexual segregation have long been practiced by moral and righteous people ALL religions of the world, including Hindus and Buddhists. Having opposite sexes freely mix in public setting has been a modern day phenomena. In fact Ultra Orthodox Jews and religious Eastern Catholics and eastern orthodox Christians (especially rural) still practice sexual segregation, and they too consider public display of affection as an immoral act.

    I think for those who do not understand the religious code (and especially Islam) will consider life in KSA a threat and view their actions as barbaric. Quite same can be said for those who are practicing religious people (Jews, Christians and Muslims) who are living in west. Being surrounded by boozed up semi-naked people is a challenge. Thus you have various religious groups sticking so close together.

    Many commenter here have voiced their shock sexual suppression, but same can be said of those who are being forced to remove their face veil in the west by force.

    In KSA western born/raised people have to be careful about what they say or how they act in the public, or else religious police will get them in big trouble. Same can be said about Muslims living in America, but only its FBI who comes knocking.

    Each of us have our own struggles. For some westerners living in KSA, and for some Muslims living in the west. Each of us struggle through socially imposed norms, but that doesn't mean that Saudi men are barbaric or American women are slutty.

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  47. Fabulous blog. Certainly has evolved over the years. You have certainly become a celebrity. And, every entry is so interesting. Amazing how different the concerns of these Saudis are from us Americans. Imagine "no kissing" signs! Why even have them? I should imagine when one can get 90 lashes, in addition to four months in the can, NOBODY would even consider kissing a child in public. Control. It's all about control. And, I love your new photo with that colored headscarf. Much softer that black.

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  48. It's simply barbaric....floggin for a mere kiss...

    @ anonymous 1 said before me comparing the lynchin to the situation in KSA: you still don't get it! you can't compare a barbaric act that happened in the past to a barbaric act that is happening RIGHT NOW

    @ anonymous 2 here in Europe there was never a sexual segregation that you can compare to the one is happening in KSA , women weren't forced to wear a garbage bag, they could speak freely with an unrelated man without the fear of being arrested.

    The growing laws that is banning the facial veil is for security reason, you don't know who wear it and for sure you can't ask every time for a woman to witness the identity of a woman who wears a face veil

    "Same can be said about Muslims living in America, but only its FBI who comes knocking." of course you can receive a visit from the FBI if someone start to speak about bombs/go to certain sites/treatens violence

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  49. Re: beheadings vs capital punishment

    "I don't think Americans are in a position to lecture saudi arabia on this point."

    Amen says this proud Canadian. Capital punishment a thing of the past here.

    SA seems to be an intriguing place. But not somewhere I would like to live.

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  50. Anonymous above, you write : "Sexual segregation have long been practiced by moral and righteous people ALL religions of the world" - yes, it's all about religious extremists isn't it? The worry is precisely to have a country ruled by moral and righteous extremists.

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  51. Your write' are the trueth, but maybe have some trouble with your blog...

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  52. "Which is more offensive - seeing someone's head chopped off or witnessing a man kiss his wife on the forehead?"

    what a preposterous way to put things. Corporal punishments have lot of advantages in that they are cheap, quick and effective. you do realize that those who are beheaded ARE criminals (murders, rapists) not just 'someone'. how can anyone sympathize with criminals?

    Besides who decides what's barbaric and what's not? is a lion tearing a deer apart barbaric? how about killing a completely innocent, living fetus? In the civilized world, children are considered a by-product of sex. Abortion is everyday business and a big business to be precise.

    now to the kissing/PDA.
    There is nothing in sharia to punish them. However, such tings must not be allowed in public because they lead to perverse things that are certainly prohibited. today you want a man to be allowed to kiss his wife in public. tomorrow you'll want him to be able to get in her pants - she might have thigh strain. thereafter you'll be calling for nude beaches, bars and clubs. (not to mention the scores of mental hospitals, counselling centers and divorce consultants that will be required.)

    i just hope Saudi don't fall into this trap of never ending perversion. Most of these social problems are down to the media which glorifies such things. movies, cable and satellite tv should be banned before anything else.

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  53. I have lived in Saudi Arabia for 10years now and there isn't one day that goes by without thinking about all the rules and regulations that are very strange to me as a european.Saying that my husband and I chose to live here and we have decided to respect its laws regardless of agreeing with them or not.Some don't make sense to us specially all the rules regarding women and the non existence relationship between men and women.But this is their country we are only passing and I feel is not right for me to try to change their views.The Saudi people should fight for what they want if they really want a change.I am a pacificist and so any type of violence is not acceptable and it never solves the root problems.Since I have started reading your blog I have never again taken for granted the freedom I have in my country and very much appreciate it.There are days that I am frustrated by the things I cannot do but try hard to embrace fully the ones I can and hope one day all the women in Saudi Arabia have what they want.
    On a different note let me tell you that when I go out with my husband,we always hold hands and we have never been stopped for doing that.We see many Saudi couples here in Jeddah doing the same.Carry on with your blog Susie and make the most of your time away from this heat!

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  54. I have lived in Saudi Arabia for 10years now and there isn't one day that goes by without thinking about all the rules and regulations that are very strange to me as a european.Saying that my husband and I chose to live here and we have decided to respect its laws regardless of agreeing with them or not.Some don't make sense to us specially all the rules regarding women and the non existence relationship between men and women.But this is their country we are only passing and I feel is not right for me to try to change their views.The Saudi people should fight for what they want if they really want a change.I am a pacificist and so any type of violence is not acceptable and it never solves the root problems.Since I have started reading your blog I have never again taken for granted the freedom I have in my country and very much appreciate it.There are days that I am frustrated by the things I cannot do but try hard to embrace fully the ones I can and hope one day all the women in Saudi Arabia have what they want.
    On a different note let me tell you that when I go out with my husband,we always hold hands and we have never been stopped for doing that.We see many Saudi couples here in Jeddah doing the same.Carry on with your blog Susie and make the most of your time away from this heat!

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  55. With the strict segregation of the genders which I find highly unnatural...don't you all think it can create unhealthy attitudes towards men and women? I mean think about this constant fear men and women have to go through on a daily basis with the fear of even looking at another person. Imagine fear looking at an elderly women because some muttawah thinks the man will have lust in his eyes for this woman. I find that extremely laughable. These people are treated like children with no brain in their heads. And if one day this society is desegregated imagine all the decades of psychological damage already done. Could the citizens even handle being able to mix after so many years????????????????

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  56. Why do you stay there?

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