Saudi Arabia: America’s Tyrannical Friendby Doug Mataconis
I’ve got to wonder what the Bush Administration will say about this:
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 crime ? Sitting in a Starbucks:
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.
“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.
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.
Because she’s an American citizen, Yara is likely to escape the fate of other Saudi women who get caught in this trap, but her story brings home just how bad things are when you’re ruled by our “friends” the Saudis.