Monday, February 14, 2005

The sterile, moonscape of Wahhabi life

I was listening to NPR this morning while making coffee and they had one of their 10 second news blurbs. These blurbs usually point out some absurd or amusing bit of news; something that you will likely also read in "News of the Weird." Today's blurb was about Wahhabi enforcers in Saudi Arabia banning the sale of red roses around Valentine's Day. I don't find that amusing or absurd, I find it just plain scary.

According to this article from Reuters, these morality police or mutawwaeen, confiscate red roses, cards, hearts, etc. and will throw vendors in jail for a night. Call me crazy, but what kind of messed up world do these people want to live in? I'm no fan of Hallmark holidays, but celebrating love is a good thing. I understand that different cultures have different conceptions of individuality and love, but the article makes it clear that there is demand for roses and the like in Saudi Arabia. Clearly, the fundamentalist mutawwaeen are not representative of the entire nation. I guess, though, that if you think that life is an arid, passionless waste and that women are nothing but another bit of property to be exploited as a resource, then perhaps Valentine's Day is something to be shunned.

Of course, nothing like this could ever happen in America, where even our evangelical citizens embrace our pluralistic democratic republic.