Its a sign of great relief I'm sure to many Saudis, especially the young ones, that the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is neither internet savvy enough to get around the filters already, and that there isn't already someone monitoring them as they use myspace and facebook to talk, meet members of their desired sexual orientation in virtual space and in person, and exchange saucy webcam and phone camera shots.
Fortunately, the Chairman of the Shura didn't seem to buy the excuse either.
Exclamations of laughter from the Council members combined with lots of winking, immediately following the request, were not reported.
Religious police demand access to blocked websites
By Mariam Al Hakeem, Correspondent
Published: August 28, 2008, 23:44
Riyadh: A number of members of the religious police (the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) have urged the Chairman of the Saudi Shura Council, Dr Saleh Bin Humaid, to enable them to have access to blocked websites to monitor immoral practices by visitors of these sites.
In an open meeting held by Dr Bin Humaid at the headquarters of the Commission in Makkah last night they justified this unexpected request by arguing that there are some male and female youngsters who exploit blocked websites to get involved in negative practices away from the eyes of the Saudi authorities.
"Since members of the Commission have no access to these blocked websites, such immoral practices cannot be pursued and put an end to," they said.
Dr Al Humaid told the Commission members to provide the relevant authorities with convincing justifications to give them to access to the blocked sites. However, he expressed doubt on the need for such a thing
"These justifications must be supported by clear evidence, otherwise there is no need for it," he said.
He said that Commission members should not think that they can correct all immoral practices in society but they have to advise society members who might listen to them.
"It is your duty to advise people and try to guide them to the right path, but you should not expect immediate results following your advice," he said. He urged them to be polite with wrong-doers and to listen to the views of others and try to strengthen relations with them.
While the Religious police focus on getting access to Penthouse, Hustler and Facebook, the Kingdom continues to lock up people for their political views. (see another Gulf News story)
Saudi group calls on rights body to stop illegal arrests of citizens
By Mariam Al Hakeem Correspondent
Published: August 28, 2008, 21:49
Riyadh: A group of citizens has urged the National Human Rights Association in Saudi Arabia to try to find a solution to the illegal arrest of Saudis, especially those who express their opinions in peaceful and civilised ways.
The group denounced the arrest of Professor Matrook Al Faleh, political science professor at King Saud University (KSU) which it described as an indication of a serious human rights violation. His family was not informed about his arrest until late at night. Dr Al Faleh was not provided with an attorney during questioning, even though Saudi law grants him that right.
Dr Al Faleh's wife, Jameela Al Aqla, said that her husband has been in prison for more than 80 days; however, he is still in solitary confinement in Al Haeer Jail. He is prohibited from receiving books, newspapers, and watching television.
Its always nice to remind myself that I'm not living in Saudi (or Yemen, or Kuwait, or Qatar, or..). Note: for those overseas, Oman does not have an equivalent of the Saudi Religious police.
So, if you get a bit down this Ramadan, with the extra-suicidal and super-rude driving that always accompanies the month of brotherly kindness; Take a breath. And repeat:
'At least I'm not in Saudi'.