In Riyadh, the Saudi morality police are again in the news. You may recall that when we last left the medieval mod squad they had secured a sentence to flog a woman who insulted them. Now, the religious police was caught on video beating up a British resident after they paid a bill at a women-only cask desk. The religious police was irate at the violation of the strict Sharia-based separation of the sexists and apparently took what they thought was the morality correct approach in beating the man in front of his wife who was wearing a black abaya cloak.
The British man is heard screaming at the police to leave his wife alone and saying “That’s my wife, how dare you!”
The confrontation occurred at a supermarket when the husband and his wife went to a female cashier. The very thought of such a thing sent the morality police into a frenzy. They filmed his car as he left and he then turned around and filmed them. That is when the violent confrontation occurred when he refused to hand over his camera. He was then attacked and pushed to the ground.
By the way, putting aside the medieval application of Sharia law, the demand for the camera and film is a position held by some American prosecutors and police including such figures as Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in Chicago. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. It is a rather bad sign when an ally for Alvarez can be found in the Saudi morality police.
However, this particular confrontation occurred over the enforcement of the segregation of Saudi society even at a supermarket checkout aisle. The British man is actually a convert to Islam and have lived in the kingdom for many years with his Saudi wife.
The religious police are officially called the Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice and known unofficially as Mutawaa. We have long covered the abuses of the Saudi Arabian religious police known as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. These are the religious fanatics who reportedly forced girls back into a burning school in Mecca because they were not sufficiently covered in public — 15 died as a result. When they are not apparently burning girls, they are forcing women to cover up “attractive eyes” or shutting down dinosaur exhibits or shutting down lingerie stores or arresting women having coffee.
The important thing for the religious police is that the scene below shows the adherence to a moral code in the beating of a man in front of his wife. After all, a man paying a woman at a checkout counter in a supermarket could lead to . . . oh I don’t know . . . equality of the sexes.