Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Religious Bullies


Making the news this past week from Saudi Arabia was a report that some 200 Saudi religious clerics have united in a cause - applying pressure and threatening the Saudi Minister of Labor, Adel Fakieh.  Their beef with Mr. Fakieh lies in his promotion and support of Saudi women in the retail workplace, a new policy which was unheard of when I first moved to the Kingdom in 2007. 

It seems that these religious zealots fear that gender mixing will lead to unacceptable and sinful behavior between unmarried men and women.  It's one thing to be opposed to gender mixing.  It's quite another to threaten the Labor Minister with the wish for bodily harm to come to him - in the form of praying to Allah that he will be stricken with cancer and die, which is exactly what happened to Fakieh's predecessor.  To his credit, Mr. Fakieh defended his position and told his opponents to file a lawsuit and let the courts decide. 
I find this threat repulsive, disgusting, and totally against the ideologies that religion is supposed to stand for.  There is nothing in Islam that would prohibit women from working in retail jobs.  I personally have been thrilled to see more and more females working in lingerie, cosmetics, and dress shops and in grocery stores in the past couple of years.  I have gone out of my way to address these working women and their managers to express my unabashed delight in seeing females in these positions.  
Me with a female employee in one of my favorite shops

It was downright creepy, humiliating, and embarrassing for a woman in Saudi Arabia - who must be fully covered from head to toe when out in public - to go into a lingerie shop and have to deal with a salesman telling her that she should buy a B-cup instead of a C.  Yet this is exactly what Saudi women were forced to endure for many years in this country before they began a 3-year campaign against this practice, ending in a tumultuous victory when a law was passed and enforced - with the King's blessing - requiring saleswomen in these positions. 
Saudi female cashiers in grocery chain Hyper Panda

After all, what could be more confusing and contradictory than placing Saudi women in the uncomfortable position of having to purchase bras, panties, negligees, cosmetics, toiletries, and feminine hygiene products from men in a culture where gender mixing is banned?   I just don't see the difference between whether a woman is the customer dealing with a salesman, or a man is the customer dealing with a saleswoman.  Isn't there the same amount of "gender mixing" occurring either way? 

But what I would really love to know is: what kind of a hideous and sick interpretation of any religion would endorse praying for a person to be stricken with cancer?  This is such an offensive idea coming from so-called "religious" men.   I believe they are just bullies practicing religious voodoo who like to keep people in line through fear mongering. 

For more reading on this subject:

From Al Arabiya - Saudi Labor Minister faces "deadly prayers" from angry clerics

From Riyadh Bureau -Saudi Clerics To Labor Minister: Stop Women Employment Or You Will Get Cancer

From American Bedu - Saudi Arabia: They Do Not Deserve the Title of Cleric

12 comments:

  1. Who do these "guys" think they are, Allah?

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    1. Hi Gaelyn - I'm sure some of them do... unfortunately.

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  2. Susie, I was looking around your wonderful blog for links, as I often do, just for the heck of it. I did go to the "Reading" item in the menu bar, and then randomly clicked on the “Saudi-American forum, essays, newsletters and items of interest” link. Got a bad url, but though it just might be a bad page so I tried the “Saudi-American-Forum.org” domain to see what find of info they might have about Saudi Arabia or Islam.

    Well, I must say that things are kind of lively there at the forum, but my guess is that
    http://Saudi-American-Forum.org is probably not too much about either Islam or Arabia.

    It seems that it is a so-called adult (I hate that term!) site and probably a virus trap.

    You may want to remove the reference. Who would have thought that Susie is linking to porn?

    OK. Excuse my bad humor. Hope you and yours have a very good 2013.

    Jay.

    PS: As to “religious bullies” the term is much too kind. May they rot in hell.

    PSWS: if anybody is so stupid or perverted as to go to the site mentioned, do not, I repeat, do not click on any link or pop up. Either close window from task manager or reboot.

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    Replies
    1. Yikes, Jay! Thanks for bringing that link to my attention. I'm not as on top of my pages as I should be. It's probably time for a good spring cleaning. I have removed the offending site and will be cleaning up my pages in the next few weeks. Thanks again - and Happy New Year!

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  3. Yet the Prophet's (PBUH) was a business owner. This is not a minor problem: when I lived in KSA, I lost enough weight that I needed a new bra size. And, sometimes, when you give up and decide to order a bra from JC Penney in the USA, you might need to have the word "breast" when you are calculating your new size. Then you get a green screen blocking your request. I wound up sending my mother the relevant measurements, and she went to the local mall in Nebraska and mailed me 3 new bras. It took about 3 weeks - silliest shopping I've ever done, but I'll be darned if some random Indian/Pakistani/Palestinian guy is going to tell me what size I wear, when my husband doesn't even know!I loved many things about living in KSA - the closeness of family, the beauty of the desert, the kindness of strangers, and the wonderful culture. It's too bad the country is administered by so many insecure men. I wonder how they can reconcile their wives being at the mercy of strange, foreign men. (Or, strange Arab men.) It is the American in me, I guess. It is a beautiful country and culture, ruined by the emotionally stunted.

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    1. Hi Zanamu - Loved your comment and I couldn't agree with you more. The "logic" (if you can call it that) used by some of these religious men is so far out there. I've been around long enough to know that I personally don't want to curtail living my life by worrying about constant "What ifs?"

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  4. It is amazing that Saudi clerics focus almost entirely on what isn't really a sin. After all the sin, if one believes in such a thing, is men and women having relations outside of wedlock. Women selling working as clerks in stores isn't buy itself a sin. Women and men 'mixing' isn't a sin at all when in public.

    Given the how much religious education Saudis get in school, one wonders how much sinks in? Should Saudi clerics be ashamed to think their former charges are just a bunch of randy boys and girls?

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    1. Jerry - You are absolutely right. These clerics are the ones with the dirty minds - they have no faith at all in their own religious teachings and no faith at all in their listeners.

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  5. i have one thing to say Wahhabism

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  6. They must think they have some sort of super powers, them being "clerics" and all.Like they can ask God for anything and just like that it will happen..talk about illusions of grandeur.

    In reality they are just very weak men. They are so scared of women, it's pathetic.
    Cowards.

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  7. The first time I lived in Pakistan, this phenomenon confused me. If I wanted underwear, hygiene items, etc, I had to deal with a male salesclerk. I only went once to a tailor shop...it was a man who took my measurements. Yet, this was in the conservative area of what was then called NWFP. The funniest memory is of Jummah Bazaar, a flea market held on Fridays. Nothing like seeing a bunch of bras and ladies underwear for sale, flapping in the wind, hanging off the tent poles and ropes.

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  8. Hmm, good job! This is really something!

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