Monday, February 04, 2008

Saudi Vice, episode 7: Depravity at Starbucks

Yara, a mother of three and a financial consultant from Jeddah, visited the new headquarters of her company in Riyadh. The electricity was temporarily out so she decided to go with a colleague to a Starbucks on the ground floor of the building to wait. They sat in the "family section" of the coffee shop.

But her colleague was - gasp! - a man.

Immediately, our heroes from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice sprang into action and arrested Yara and her male colleague for being in a state of "khulwa", meaning in seclusion with an unrelated member of the opposite sex. Starbucks in Saudi Arabia are secluded enough for violating the law, but not secluded enough for our heroes to be able to see what everyone is doing.

The Vice Commission wasted no time. They forced Yara into a cab, took away her cell phone when she tried to call her husband, and then placed her in a Chevrolet Suburban, the Commission's favored means of transporting immoral criminals.

The whore Yara explains what happened next:

“I told (the commission member) that I am a good Muslim, a mother of three, and a God-fearing person who would never do shameful things,” she told Arab News in tears.

Last year, the Interior Ministry issued a ruling that the commission cannot detain people and must pass them on to the police.

Yara said that she was handed a confession.

“He told me I needed to fingerprint this paper stating that I got my mobile phone and bag back,” she said. “When I told him my phone was still confiscated, he threatened me: ‘Just do it!’”

She said that she fingerprinted the paper under duress.

“I had no other choice ... I was scared for my life ... I was afraid that they would abuse me or do something to me,” she said, as she broke down in tears again.

Then another person got into the GMC and switched on the engine.

As the Commission knows well, it is far better for a woman to be alone in a car with two male commission members than in a Starbucks with any other man.

“The next thing I saw from the window was that we were approaching a place with a sign written on the outside: Malaz Prison,” she said.

Inside the prison, Yara recounts being taken to a cell with a one-way mirror. On the other side was a sheikh.

I could not see him because there was a dark window,” she said, adding that each time she paused he would reprimand her, telling her what she did was wrong. “He kept on telling me this is not allowed.”

Yara told the sheikh that her husband knew where she was and what she was doing. He then started writing a report. Another pre-written confession was fingerprinted, she said. She pleaded with prison authorities to contact her husband.

“They would not let me contact my husband,” she said. “I told them... please... my husband will have a heart attack if he does not know what has happened to me.”

She was not given a phone to call her husband. She was not given access to a lawyer. “They stripped me,” she said. “They checked that I had nothing with me and threw me in the cell with all the others.”

The disgusting, immoral man is still in detention.

The brave men of the Commission managed to keep the streets of Riyadh free from vice for another day.

And we can all breathe easier that the "family section" of Starbucks in Riyadh is a safe place where the virtue and honor of women are respected.

Earlier episodes:

Episode 6: Protecting Saudi Women
Episode 5: What's ummah, Doc?
Episode 4: The car washer
Episode 3: Holy Shi'ite
Episode 2: Alone with a strange, sick woman
Episode 1: Introduction, plus A Gang of Magicians