It has not been a good week for Saudi Arabia’s morality police, defenders of the kingdom’s strict Islamic values and the scourge of young men and women who dare to meet in public out of wedlock.
The zealous, all-male volunteer force from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice patrols shopping malls, harassing unescorted women and arresting others for not wearing suitably modest dress, their religious authority unchallenged. They have even been known to ban florists from selling red flowers before Valentine’s Day.
This week, however, two separate reports emerged of Saudi women not just fighting back but besting the intimidating guardians of public morality.
The first case occurred in the eastern city of al-Mubarraz, when a member of the Mutaween, as the volunteer force is known, stopped a young couple in an amusement park and asked them to explain what their relationship was, since it is illegal for women not accompanied by a male relative to go out in public, let alone fraternise with another man.
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