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Sunday, February 14, 2010

No strawberries on cakes for Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia

Another article about how the Saudi religious police crack down on red items on Valentine's Day:
It’s that time of the year again when the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) “sees red” at shopkeepers selling Valentine things — or even strawberries on cakes.

Customers ask us for cakes with strawberries on them, which we sell throughout the year,” said Samir, a sales clerk at a well-known Riyadh patisserie. “Then we are ordered not to sell them (around Valentine’s Day).”

Marth Sanluis, a Philippine worker at a flower shop on Jeddah’s Rawdah Street said his shop is avoiding any possible conflict by keeping red stuff off the shelves.

“If they (the Haia) see one heart-shaped item or red rose they will take the stuff and close the shop,” he said.

Another flower shop also in Rawdah however had many red teddy bears, roses, cards and heart shaped items. The worker at the shop, Aamir Habib, said that the commission had not visited them yet but if they did they would confiscate all red items.

For those who do indulge in the annual cat-and-mouse game, some simply wear red fashion items or accessorize in red as a small gesture of defiance.

On Saturday in a posh Jeddah boutique, young men were seen snapping pictures of red fashion items and sending the pictures by SMS, presumably to their dear ones to ensure they’re buying the right gift.

One local newspaper lampooned the crackdown on red by questioning whether it was OK to wear the red-and-white Saudi man’s headdress, prompting the Haia to reply that the shemagh is allowed.