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February 23, 2008
Oh to be young and in love - anywhere but Saudi Arabia
The incongruity of this nation sitting on half the world's oil reserves grows more grotesque by the day.
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 description of what the young men were doing is so common in the west that it shocks us and makes us pause to think of how it would be living in a society like that.
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.
P.J. O'Rourke once wrote that Saudi society was set up by men with teenage daugters. Not allowing boys to see a girl's face, dressing them head to toe in a canvas sack, and being able to execute them if they violated the rules was a teen daughter's father's dream come true.
Perhaps there's more to that theory than just a joke...