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 Post subject: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:42 pm 
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Saudi women find love

By RASHA MADKOUR, Associated Press Writer
Mon July 2, 2007

"Girls of Riyadh: - Rajaa Alsanea: You could call it "Sex in the Arabian City."

In her bold debut novel "Girls of Riyadh," Rajaa Alsanea chronicles the lives of four young Saudi women as they navigate the obstacle-laden path to love, littered with universal challenges as well as those borne of local customs.

Meet Sadeem, a business management major whose fiance suddenly and inexplicably breaks up with her after an intimate evening, propelling her to devour books by Freud so she can get a handle on what went wrong.

Then there's Michelle, daughter of a Saudi man and American woman, who openly dismisses cultural practices such as covering her face in front of unfamiliar men. But when her family's lack of tribal affiliation jeopardizes her relationship with her boyfriend, she comes to realize that she can't escape some traditions of the conservative kingdom.

Gamrah, the first of the quartet to tie the knot, finds married life not at all how she imagined. The envy of her friends at the beginning of the book, her story becomes perhaps the most pitiful of all.

Rounding them out is Lamees, a pragmatic medical student who takes heed of the lessons her friends learned the hard way. When a serious prospect shows up in her life, she devises a set of rules: "I will not allow myself to love him until I sense his love towards me. I will not become attached to him before he proposes. I will not live in a hopeless fantasy."

An anonymous narrator tells these stories of her friends through a series of e-mails distributed by a Yahoo! Groups listserv. That she challenges social norms, talks about romantic relationships happening outside the traditional framework, brings up issues of racism, divorce and homosexuality, prompts a firestorm among some of her readers — not unlike the real-life response to this tome when it was first released in Arabic in 2005.

The narrator addresses her critics, writing: "Everyone is condemning my bold writing, and perhaps by boldness in writing it all. Everyone is blaming me for the fury I have stirred up around taboo topics that in this society we have never been accustomed to discussing so frankly and especially when the opening salvos come from a young woman like me. But isn't there a starting point for every drastic social change?"

The women's different outlooks on life and love, tradition and religion provide a refreshingly realistic portrayal of an often-stereotyped group.

Alsanea uses footnotes to clarify some cultural references; readers could have benefited from more of these and from better explanations in some cases. While it starts to drag on near the end, this novel is for the most part engaging, enlightening and enjoyable.

Source : Click here.

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 Post subject: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:49 pm 
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Sentenced to 7,000 lashes for sodomy in Saudi Arabia

5th October 2007
PinkNews.co.uk writer

Two men have been publicly flogged in Saudi Arabia after being found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to 7,000 lashes.

The men, who have not been identified, received an unspecified number of lashes in the south-western city of Al-Bahah on Tuesday evening, according to a report from the Al-Okaz daily.

The men will remain in prison until the rest of their punishment can be completed.

In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is illegal under sharia, or Islamic Law.

The maximum sentence it carries is the death penalty and this is most commonly performed by public beheading.

Gay rights are not recognised in the kingdom and the publication of any material promoting them is banned for its "un-Islamic" themes.

With strict laws restricting unmarried opposite-sex couples, however, and public displays of affection accepted between men, some Westerners have suggested that sharia encourages homosexuality.

Last April, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced two Saudis, one Yemeni and a Jordanian to two years in jail and 2,000 lashes after a police raid on an alleged gay party.

Iran has been condemned for carrying out the death penalty on men found guilty of having gay sex.

Source: PinkNews.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:23 pm 
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Saudi defends verdict against gang-rape victim
Tue Nov 20, 2007

RIYADH (Reuters) — Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as "astonishing".

The 19-year-old Shi'ite woman from the town of Qatif in the Eastern Province and an unrelated male companion were abducted and raped by seven men in 2006.

Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of Islamic law, a court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years. It blamed the woman for being alone with an unrelated man.

Last week the Supreme Judicial Council increased the sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison and ordered the rapists to serve between two and nine years in jail.

The ruling provoked rare criticism from the United States, which is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to attend a Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland next week.

A State Department spokesman told reporters on Monday that "most (people) would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens".

The court also took the unusual step of initiating disciplinary procedures against her lawyer, Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, forcibly removing him from the case for having talked about it to the media.

"The Ministry of Justice welcomes constructive criticism ... The system allows appeals without resort to the media," said Tuesday's statement issued on the official news agency SPA.

It berated media for not specifying that three judges, not one, issued the recent ruling and reiterated that the "charges were proven" against the woman.

It also repeated the judges' attack against Lahem last week, saying he had "spoken insolently about the judicial system and challenged laws and regulations".

Lahem was not available for comment.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on King Abdullah, who last month announced plans to overhaul the system, to drop all charges against the woman.

A series of erratic verdicts have focused attention on the Saudi legal system, which is dominated by clerics who adhere to the kingdom's austere Sunni form of Islamic law. Personal status law remains uncodified and the system does not recognize the concept of precedent.

(Reporting by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Caroline Drees)

Source: Reuters.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:25 pm 
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Saudi King Pardons Gang Rape Victim
Dec 17, 2007
By ABDULLAH SHIHRI
Associated Press Writer

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A gang-rape victim who was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes for being alone with a man not related to her was pardoned by the Saudi king after the case sparked rare criticism from the United States, the kingdom's top ally.

Outrage over the sentence prompted unusually strong comments from President Bush, who said that if the same thing had happened to one of his daughters, he would be "angry" at a government that didn't protect the victim. The White House called the sentence "outrageous."

In past weeks, Saudi officials have bristled at the criticism of what they consider an internal affair — but also appeared wary of hurting their image in the United States.

Bush's National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the White House thinks Saudi King Abdullah "made the right decision" by pardoning the woman.

With the pardon, Abdullah appeared to be aiming at relieving the pressure from the United States without being seen to criticize Saudi Arabia's conservative legal system, a stronghold of powerful clerics adhering to the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

Justice Minister Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sheik said the pardon reported Monday by Saudi media does not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but that he was acting in the "interests of the people."

"The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair," al-Sheik said, according to the Al-Jazirah newspaper.

In Washington, the State Department lauded the pardon, which it said it had confirmed through diplomatic channels, and said it hoped the decision would have an impact on the Saudi judiciary when considering similar cases.

"We're very pleased by the decision that was taken by the king, and we certainly hope it will send a signal to the Saudi judiciary," deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters. "We certainly hope it will send a signal to the Saudi judiciary.

"We would like to not see a repeat of cases like this," Casey said. "If the king's decision has an impact of that kind on the thinking of those in the Saudi judicial system, I think that would be a good thing."

The victim — known only as the "Girl of Qatif" after her hometown in eastern Saudi Arabia — was in a car with a man in 2006 when they were attacked and raped by seven men.

She was initially sentenced in November 2006 to several months in prison and 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man with whom she was neither related nor married, a violation of the kingdom's strict segregation of the sexes.

The woman, who was 19 at the time of the rape, has said she met the man to retrieve a picture of herself from him because she had recently married.

The seven men who were convicted of raping both the girl and the man were initially sentenced to jail terms from 10 months to five years. Their sentences were increased to between two and nine years after the appeal.

The case sparked increased international outcry recently after the court more than doubled the sentence last month to 200 lashes and six months prison in response to her appeal. Joining the U.S. criticism, Canada called the ruling barbaric.

Earlier this month, Bush expressed his anger over the sentencing.

"My first thoughts were these," Bush said. "What happens if this happens to my daughter? How would I react? And I would have been — I'd of been very emotional, of course. I'd have been angry at those who committed the crime. And I'd be angry at a state that didn't support the victim."

The controversy erupted as the United States was trying to ensure Saudi Arabia's participation in the November Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Md. — which the kingdom attended.

During a U.S. visit before the conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal was visibly irritated when asked about the case by journalists. He said the storm being raised over it was outrageous, but also promised the sentence would be reviewed.

The kingdom's Justice Ministry has defended the sentence, saying the girl was having an illicit affair with the man.

Al-Sheik said Abdullah was the only official who could issue a pardon, and he did so despite the government's view that the Saudi legal system was "honest" and "fair."

"The king's order consolidates and confirms what is known about the Islamic courts," al-Sheik told Al-Jazirah. "Efficient judges look into different cases and issue their just verdicts and those convicted have the right to appeal."

Attempts to reach the woman's lawyer by telephone went unanswered Monday.

Source: Breitbart.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:52 pm 
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From The Times
February 7, 2008
Religious police in Saudi Arabia arrest mother for sitting with a man

Image

By Sonia Verma in Dubai

A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three is seeking justice after she was thrown in jail by Saudi Arabia's religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.

Yara, who does not want her last name published for fear of retribution, was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions by the Kingdom's "Mutaween" police.

Her story offers a rare first-hand glimpse of the discrimination faced by women living in Saudi Arabia. In her first interview with the foreign press, Yara told The Times that she would remain in Saudi Arabia to challenge its harsh enforcement of conservative Islam rather than return to America.

"If I want to make a difference I have to stick around. If I leave they win. I can't just surrender to the terrorist acts of these people," said Yara, who moved to Jeddah eight years ago with her husband, a prominent businessman.

Her ordeal began with a routine visit to the new Riyadh offices of her finance company, where she is a managing partner.

The electricity temporarily cut out, so Yara and her colleagues — who are all men — went to a nearby Starbucks to use its wireless internet.

She sat in a curtained booth with her business partner in the café's "family" area, the only seats where men and women are allowed to mix.

For Yara, it was a matter of convenience. But in Saudi Arabia, public contact between unrelated men and women is strictly prohibited.

"Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked "Why are you here together?'. I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin," recalled Yara, who wears an abaya and headscarf, like most Saudi women.

The men were from Saudi Arabia's Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a police force of several thousand men charged with enforcing dress codes, sex segregation and the observance of prayers.

Yara, whose parents are Jordanian and grew up in Salt Lake City, once believed that life in Saudi Arabia was becoming more liberal. But on Monday the religious police took her mobile phone, pushed her into a cab and drove her to Malaz prison in Riyadh. She was interrogated, strip-searched and forced to sign and fingerprint a series of confessions pleading guilty to her "crime".

"They took me into a filthy bathroom, full of water and dirt. They made me take off my clothes and squat and they threw my clothes in this slush and made me put them back on," she said. Eventually she was taken before a judge.

"He said 'You are sinful and you are going to burn in hell'. I told him I was sorry. I was very submissive. I had given up. I felt hopeless," she said.

Yara's husband, Hatim, used his political contacts in Jeddah to track her whereabouts. He was able to secure her release.

"I was lucky. I met other women in that prison who don't have the connections I did," she said. Her story has received rare coverage in Saudi Arabia, where the press has been sharply critical of the police.

Yara was visited yesterday by officials from the American Embassy, who promised they would file a report.

An embassy official told The Times that it was being treated as "an internal Saudi matter" and refused to comment on her case.

Source: The Times UK

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:24 pm 
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Saudis ban red roses for Valentine's Day

By Sally Peck
12 February 2008

Saudi Arabia's religious police have banned the sale of red roses ahead of Valentine's Day.

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Look out Cupid: No roses in Riyadh

Crimson items - from roses to wrapping paper - have been banned from the shelves of florists and gift shops in Riyadh until Friday by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Every year officials visit florists a few days before Feb 14 to issue warnings on red items, which are widely seen as symbols of love, according to local newspapers. The Commission raids shops on the eve of Valentine's Day, which it sees as an encouragement of relations outside of wedlock, to ensure that the ban is being carried out.

According to the Saudi Gazette, the ban has resulted in a blossoming black market for red roses. One man, who claimed to run an underground flower shop out of his flat, said he could make as much as SAR20-30 (£2.70- £4) per rose, when the normal price is SAR5-7 (68p - £1). He told the paper that he sometimes delivers bouquets in the middle of the night to avoid prying eyes, and that his loyal customers place orders weeks before the Feb 14 holiday.

Relationships outside marriage are strictly prohibited in the conservative Muslim state and are punishable by law. "As Muslims we shouldn't celebrate a non-Muslim celebration especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women," Sheikh Khaled al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic Studies and sharia law, told the paper.

However, there is some hope for hopeless romantics. This year Valentine's Day coincides with mid-term break, so many Saudis have already left the kingdom on holiday. The ban came into force in Riyadh on Sunday and red items remain forbidden until after February 14.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:56 pm 
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dragon wrote:
From The Times
February 7, 2008
Religious police in Saudi Arabia arrest mother for sitting with a man

Image

From The Times
February 20, 2008
Starbucks mother flouted the law, say religious police in Saudi Arabia
By Sonia Verma in Bahrain

A US businesswoman living in Saudi Arabia fears for her life after the religious police issued a rare statement defending her arrest this month for having coffee with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.

Yara, a 37-year-old married mother of three, said that she was strip-searched, forced to sign false confessions and told by a judge that she would "burn in hell", before she was released on February 4.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice denounced her publicly with a statement posted on the internet on Monday night saying that her actions violated the Sharia of the country.

"It"s not allowed for any woman to travel alone and sit with a strange man and talk and laugh and drink coffee together like they are married," it said.

"All of these are against the law and it"s clear it"s against the law. First, for a woman to work with men is against the law and against religion. Second, the family sections at coffee shops and restaurants are meant for families and close relatives," it continued.

The commission contested the version of events from Yara, saying that she was never strip-searched or forced to sign confessions. It accused her of wearing make-up, not covering her hair and moving around suspiciously while sitting with her Syrian colleague, who was also arrested but later released.

Speaking to The Times yesterday from the family"s home in Jeddah, the husband of Yara, who did not want the family name made public for fear of retribution, said: "We are afraid for our lives, for our family and from further harassment. The things that they are suggesting about my wife, of course it isn"t true. She"s a professional businesswoman and she was at a café, not at a bar. They are coming up with ways to justify their actions."

The story of Yara captured international attention and has started fierce debate within Saudi society, where reformers and human rights groups are pressuring the Government to be more liberal.

The powerful religious police vowed to sue two newspaper columnists who have written in defence of Yara and who criticised the "Mutaween" and their handling of the incident, saying: "The commission has the right to sue the writers because of the lies they are spreading. It gives the wrong idea of Saudi Arabia."

Yara, a managing partner in a finance company has returned to work but she no longer travels to the offices of the company in Riyadh.

Her family is contemplating a return to America, saying that they feel caught in the middle of a greater debate in Saudi society between conservatives and reformers.

"There are a lot of Saudis who are angry and they are using Yara"s story to say "Enough of these people in our country". Regardless of whether we agree or disagree we don"t want to get further punished for this," Yara"s husband said.

Source: Times Online UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:57 pm 
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Saudi men arrested for 'flirting'
Saturday, 23 February 2008

Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia have begun investigating 57 young men who were arrested on Thursday for flirting with girls at shopping centres in Mecca.

The men are accused of wearing indecent clothes, playing loud music and dancing in order to attract the attention of girls, the Saudi Gazette reported.

They were arrested following a request of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

The mutaween enforce Saudi Arabia's conservative brand of Islam, Wahhabism.

Earlier in the month, the authorities enforced a ban on the sale of red roses and other symbols used in many countries to mark Valentine's Day.

The ban is partly because of the connection with a "pagan Christian holiday", and also because the festival itself is seen as encouraging relations between the sexes outside marriage, punishable by law in the kingdom.

The Prosecution and Investigation Commission said it had received reports of such "bad" behaviour by 57 young men at a number of shopping centres in the holy city of Mecca, the Saudi Gazette said.

The guardians of some of the men defended their actions, however, saying they would regularly get together at the weekend to have fun without ever violating laws governing the segregation of the sexes, it added.

Source: BBC News

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 7:19 pm 
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Saudi tutor gets lashes for meeting student

27 February 2008

A married university professor has been sentenced to 180 lashes and eight months in prison for having coffee with a female student.

The professor of psychology at Umm al-Qra University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, was caught in a "honey trap" operation after angering members of the religious police during a training course, his lawyer said.

The academic is said to have received a call from a supposed student, who asked to discuss a problem in person; he agreed, provided she brought along a brother as a chaperone.

When the man arrived at the meeting place, the girl was alone, and he was arrested for being in a state of khulwa - seclusion - with an unrelated female.

The professor, who has not been named, was reported to be a married man in his late 50s with children.

Contact between unrelated men and women is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, where religious police patrol public places to enforce Islamic law on behalf of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Abdullah al-Sanousi, the professor's lawyer, said his client had upset some of the commission's trainees on a course that a number had failed.

The professor, who is said to have taped the girl admitting that she was sent by the police, is appealing against the sentence.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:30 pm 
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Saudi 11-year-old marries 10-year-old cousin: report
March 18, 2008

Image

An 11-year-old boy has married his 10-year-old cousin in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Mohammed al-Rashidi and his unidentified cousin will seal the marriage they contracted under the sharia laws of Islam and move in together after a ceremony to take place in the summer, Al-Shams newspaper said.

"I am ready for this marriage. It will help me study better," Mohammed, who goes to primary school in the northern province of Hail, was quoted as saying by Al-Shams.

"I invite all my classmates to do like me," the boy said, adding that he wanted to "crown a love story through marriage".

The schoolboy's father, Muraizak al-Rashidi, told the newspaper he was busy sending out invitations for a summer celebration to seal the marriage.

Dahim al-Jaber, the headmaster at Mohammed's school, said marriage at such a young age was "inappropriate" but wished the couple a happy life together.

Source: Breitbart AFP.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 7:18 pm 
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Saudi man given 150 lashes for unchaperoned meeting with woman

By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
12 May 2008

A Saudi Arabian man has been sentenced to eight months in prison and 150 lashes after he was caught meeting a woman without a chaperone in a coffee shop.

Muhammad Ali Abu Raziza, a psychology professor in Mecca, was arrested by the Kingdom"s feared religious police, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. He was accused of breaking the Islamic injunctions under the Khilwa code, which restricts the independence of women. It stipulates that women must not meet men alone, other than relatives.

However the professor has alleged police entrapment. He claimed a history of personality disputes with the arresting officers, who were once his students. In his defence, Abu Raziza had said he had called the woman to ensure she had a chaperone but despite her assurances, she was alone when he arrived. No information has emerged about the fate of the woman since the incident.

Amnesty International has urged Saudi authorities to release the professor: "Saudi Arabia should stop needlessly persecuting people like this - we want to see a complete end to people in the kingdom being punished for 'khilwa" offences."

Saudi Arabia applies an austere form of Islam which bans women from mixing with men to whom they are not related, voting or driving, as well as punishing men and women found guilty of illegal encounters.

The religious police have wide powers to search for alcohol, drugs and prostitution, ensure shops are closed during prayers in addition to maintaining a strict system of sexual segregation.

Young Saudis customarily drive far into the desert beyond the reach of the police to conduct liaisons that would be commonplace elsewhere.

International criticism of the harsh methods and arbitrary nature of the force has risen steadily over the years. According to its own figures, just five percent of its arrests end up in court. Many of those held are punished while in custody.

But the head of the force recently lashed out its critics, claiming they sought to destablise the Saudi state.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 3:26 am 
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From The Sunday Times
May 18, 2008
She"s never met the man she"s marrying: it"s love, the Saudi way
Michael Slackman offers a rare insight into the closed world of Saudi Arabia and its bizarre and highly risky mating rituals

Image
Sara, 18, at home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 14, 2008. The separation between the sexes in Saudi Arabia is so extreme that it is difficult to overstate.

Nader al-Mutairi stiffened his shoulders, clenched his fists and said: "Let"s do our mission." Then the young man stepped into the cool, empty lobby of a dental clinic, intent on getting the phone number of one of the young women working as a receptionist.

Asking a woman for her number can cause a young man anxiety anywhere. But in Saudi Arabia getting caught with an unrelated woman can mean arrest, a possible flogging and dishonour, the worst penalty of all in a society where preserving a family"s reputation depends on faithful adherence to a strict code of separation between the sexes.

Above all, Nader feared that his cousin Enad al-Mutairi would find out he was breaking the rules. Nader is engaged to Enad"s 17-year-old sister, Sarah. "Please don"t talk to Enad about this," he said. "He will kill me."

The sun was already low as Nader entered the clinic. Almost instantly, his resolve faded. His shoulders drooped, his hands unclenched and his voice began to quiver. "I am not lucky today; let"s leave," he said.

It was a flash of rebellion, almost instantly quelled. In the West, youth is typically a time to challenge authority. But what stood out in dozens of interviews with young men and women in Saudi Arabia was how completely they have accepted the religious and cultural demands of the Muslim world"s most conservative society. They chafe against the rules, even at times try to evade them, but they can be merciless in their condemnation of those who flout them too brazenly. And they are committed to perpetuating the rules with their own children.

That suggests that Saudi Arabia"s strict interpretation of Islam, largely uncontested at home by the next generation and spread abroad by Saudi money in a time of religious revival, will increasingly shape how Muslims around the world will live their faith. Young men like Nader and Enad are taught that they are the guardians of the family"s reputation, expected to shield their female relatives from shame and avoid dishonouring their families by their own behaviour. It is a classic example of how the Saudis have melded their faith with their desert tribal traditions.

"One of the most important Arab traditions is honour," Enad said. "If my sister goes in the street and someone assaults her, she won"t be able to protect herself. The nature of men is that men are more rational. Women are not rational. With one or two or three words, a man can get what he wants from a woman. If I call someone and a girl answers, I have to apologise. It is a violation of the house."

Enad is the alpha male, a 20-year-old police officer with an explosive temper and a fondness for teasing. Nader, 22, is soft-spoken, with a gentle smile and an inclination to follow rather than lead.

They are more than cousins; they are lifelong friends and confidants. That is often the case in Saudi Arabia, where families are frequently large and insular.

They are average young Saudi men, residents of the nation"s conservative heartland, Riyadh, a flat, clean city of 5m that gleams with oil wealth, two glass skyscrapers and roads clogged with oversized SUVs. It offers young men very little in the way of entertainment, with no movie theatres and few sports facilities. If they are unmarried, they cannot even enter the malls where women shop.

Nader sank deep into a cushioned chair in a hotel cafe, sipping fresh orange juice, fiddling with his cellphone. If there is one accessory that allows a bit of self-expression for Saudi men, it is their cellphones. Nader"s is filled with pictures of pretty women taken from the internet, tight face shots of singers and actresses. His ringtone is a love song in Arabic. "I"m very romantic," Nader said. "I don"t like action movies. I like romance. Titanic is No 1. I like Head Over Heels. Romance is love."

Three days later, in a nearby restaurant, Nader and Enad were concentrating on eating with utensils, feeling a bit awkward since they normally eat with their right hands.

Suddenly the young men stopped focusing on their food. A woman had entered the restaurant alone. She was completely draped in a black abaya, her face covered by a black veil, her hair and ears covered by a black cloth pulled tight. "Look at the Batman," Nader said derisively, snickering.

Enad pretended to toss his burning cigarette at the woman, who by now had been seated at a table. The glaring young men unnerved her. "She is alone, without a man," Enad said, explaining why they were disgusted, not just with her but with her male relatives, too, wherever they were. "Thank God our women are at home," Enad said.

Nader and Enad pray five times a day, often stopping whatever they are doing to traipse off with their cousins to the nearest mosque. Prayer is mandatory in the kingdom and the religious police force all shops to shut during prayer times. But it is also casual, as routine for Nader and Enad as taking a coffee break.

To Nader and Enad, prayer is essential. In Enad"s view, jihad is too, not the more moderate approach which emphasises doing good deeds, but the idea of picking up a weapon and fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Jihad is not a crime, it is a duty," Enad said in casual conversation. "If someone comes into your house, will you stand there or will you fight them?" He was leaning forward, his short, thick hands resting on his knees: "Arab or Muslim lands are like one house."

The concept is such a fundamental principle, so embedded in their psyches, that they do not see any conflict between their belief in armed jihad and their work as security agents of the state. As a police officer, Enad helps to conduct raids on suspected terrorist hideouts. Nader works in the military as a communications officer.

Each earns about 4,000 riyals a month, about £500, not nearly enough to become independent from their parents. But that is not a huge concern, because fathers are expected to provide for even their grown children, to ensure that they have a place to live and the means to get married. To many parents, providing money is seen as more central to their honour than ensuring that their children get an education.

Each young man has the requisite moustache and goatee and most of the time dresses in a traditional robe. Nader prefers the white thobe, an ankle-length gown; Enad prefers beige.

But at weekends they opt for the wild and crazy guy look, often wearing running pants, tight short-sleeved shirts, bright colours, stripes and plaids together, lots of Velcro and elastic on their shoes.

There are eight other children in the house where Enad lives with his father, his mother and his father"s second wife. The apartment has little furniture, with nothing on the walls. The men and boys gather in a living room off the main hall, sitting on soiled beige wall-to-wall carpeting, watching a television propped up on a crooked cabinet. The women have a similar living room, nearly identical, behind closed doors.

The house remains a haven for Enad and his cousins, who often spend their free time sleeping, watching Oprah with subtitles on television, drinking cardamom coffee and sweet tea — and smoking.

Enad and Nader were always close, but their relationship changed when Nader and Sarah became engaged. Enad"s father agreed to let Nader marry one of his four daughters. Nader picked Sarah, although she is not the oldest, in part, he said, because he actually saw her face when she was a child and recalled that she was pretty.

They quickly signed a wedding contract, making them legally married, but by tradition they do not consider themselves so until the wedding party, set for this spring. During the intervening months they are not allowed to see each other or spend any time together.

Nader said he expected to see his new wife for the first time after their wedding ceremony — which would also be segregated by sex — when they are photographed as husband and wife.

"If you want to know what your wife looks like, look at her brother," Nader said in defending the practice of marrying someone he had seen only once, briefly, as a child. That is the traditional Nader, who at times conflicts with the romantic Nader.

Soon his cellphone beeped, signalling a text message. Nader blushed, stuck his tongue out and turned slightly away to read the message, which came from "My Love". He sneaks secret phone calls and messages with Sarah. When she calls, or writes a message, his phone flashes "My Love" over two interlocked red hearts. "I have a connection," he said quietly as he read, explaining how Sarah manages to communicate with him.

His connection is Enad, who secretly slipped Sarah a cellphone that Nader had bought for her. These conversations are taboo and could cause a dispute between the two families. So their talks were clandestine, like sneaking out for a date after the parents go to bed.

Enad keeps the secret but it adds to an underlying tension between the two, as Nader tries to develop his own identity as a future head of household, as a man. Enad teases Nader, at one point saying: "In a year you will find my sister with a moustache and him in the kitchen."

"Not true," Nader said, mustering as much defiance as he could. "I am a man."

Another flashpoint: the honeymoon. Nader is planning to take Sarah to Malaysia and Enad wants to go. He suggests that Nader owes him. "Yes, take me," Enad says, with a touch of mischief in his voice.

Nader cannot seem to tell if he is kidding. "You know, he can be crazy," Nader said. "He"s always angry. No, he is not coming. It is not a good idea."

Nader grew up in Riyadh and his parents, like Enad"s, are first cousins. Enad says his way of thinking was forged in the village of Najkh, 350 miles west of Riyadh, where he lived until he was 14 with his grandfather. It is where he still feels most comfortable.

When he can, he has a cousin drive him to his grandfather"s home, a one-storey concrete box in the desert, four miles from the nearest house. There is a walled-in yard of sand with piles of wood used to heat the house in the cold desert winters.

Inside there is no furniture, just a few cushions on the floor and a prayer rug. Enad is quiet and hides his cigarettes when his grandfather comes through. He would never tell his father or grandfather that he smokes and remains stone-faced when a cousin mentions that another of his cousins, a woman named al-Atti, 22, is interested in him. The topic came up because another cousin, Raed, had asked al-Atti to marry him and she refused.

The conflict and flirtation touched on so many issues — manhood, love, family relations — that it sparked a flurry of whispering and even Enad was drawn in.

Al-Atti had let her sisters know that she liked Enad, but made it clear that she could never admit that publicly. So she asked a sister to spread the word from cousin to cousin and ultimately to Enad. "It"s forbidden to announce your love. It is impossible," she said.

Word finally reached Enad, who tried to stay cool but was clearly interested and flattered. At this point Enad was himself whispering about al-Atti, trying to figure out a way to communicate with her without actually talking to her himself. He asked a female visitor to arrange a call and then pass along a message of interest.

Enad said it was never his idea to pursue her but that a man —a real man — could not reject a woman who wanted him. To get his cousin Raed out of the picture, he suggested that al-Atti"s brother take Raed to hear al-Atti"s refusal in person, at her house. "From behind a wall," Enad said.

"Love is dangerous," al-Atti said as she sat with her sisters in the house. "It can ruin your reputation."

Source: The Sunday Times UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 12:45 pm 
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Saudi Arabia arrests alleged gays in raid
June 21, 2008

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A Saudi newspaper says religious police have arrested 21 allegedly homosexual men and confiscated large amounts of alcohol.

Al-Medina daily says the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which employs the religious police, was told Friday of a large gathering of young men at a rest house in Qatif, in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The paper says scores of men were initially arrested but only 21 remain in detention.

Homosexuality is seen as a sin in Islam and prohibited in Saudi Arabia and most other Muslim nations. In the conservative kingdom, the offense can be punished by flogging or prison.

Source: Breitbart AP

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:06 pm 
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55 arrested at suspected gay party in Qatif farm
Ghazanfar Ali Khan | Arab News
30 July 2008

RIYADH: Police have arrested 55 people at a party allegedly held by homosexuals at a farm near Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia.

David Dicang, the Philippine Embassy"s labor attaché in charge of the Eastern Province, said, "I know that some Filipinos have been arrested in that area and we are trying to help them."

He said he could not comment on the nature of the case. " I can"t confirm or deny reports that are circulating in the media...I am working with the police to help the detained Filipino workers," said Dicang.

According to a report on Al-Arabiya TV, two young men were allegedly found wearing women"s makeup and dancing on stage in what has been described as a gay party.

The report said the detainees were handcuffed when arrested.

According to police, drugs and alcohol were found at the farm and that many of those arrested were Filipinos and Pakistanis.

Waqar Ahmed, community welfare attaché at the Pakistan Embassy, said, "I have no knowledge about any arrest so far. Our workers are normally not involved in such kinds of activities. There is a possibility that some Pakistanis may be working or serving food in the party and then got arrested."

Ahmed said a small number of poor Pakistanis work in the Qatif region.

Source: Arab News.

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 Post subject: Re: Saudi Arabia and sex
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 5:20 am 
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Sunday, 24 August 2008

Saudi child 'files for divorce'

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A couple look at a wedding dress in Riyadh, file image. Young girls are sometimes given away in return for large dowries

A court in Saudi Arabia is reported to be preparing to hear a plea for divorce from an eight-year-old girl who has been married off to a man in his 50s.

The Saudi newspaper al-Watan said the girl had been married off to the man by her father without her knowledge.

The child's mother is thought to be pushing for the marriage to be annulled - though the father opposes the move.

In April, a court in neighbouring Yemen annulled the arranged marriage of another eight-year-old girl.

She had been married to a 28-year-old man.

Child-protection groups say children are often given away in return for hefty dowries, or as a result of old customs in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships.

Activists have called for an end to the practice.

Source: BBC News.

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