It’s too good to check, and anyway if it’s wrong it’s the Telegraph‘s gaffe, so I’m going to analyze its deeper meaning. The story’s fairly straightforward, given the wackiness of the “culture” in the Muslim world (yes, the same Muslim world that President Obama approached in Cairo in the conviction that he would forge a new world order with them): there’s a big celebration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It’s called the Jenadrivah Heritage and Culture Festival. Lots of people from all over the region are there. All of a sudden, the Religious Police, charged with protecting the Kingdom from sin, march into the stands and arrest three men, visitors from the United Arab Emirates.
Their crime? “They are too handsome.”
Their punishment? Expulsion. Shipped off to Abu Dhabi, where handsome is still permitted.
A bit of detail for the curious. The police, members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices, feared female visitors could fall for them.”
Let’s put this story on Freud’s couch (which, by the way, still exists in his home in Vienna. But I digress). Note that the defenders of virtue aren’t protecting Saudi women, but foreigners. The implication being that Saudi females aren’t as easily compromised, even by handsome rogues. Indeed, there was at least one foreign woman present, an “artist” from the UAE who, we are told by a spokesman from the Emirates, wasn’t part of the official delegation. So the Religious Police were making sure that those lascivious foreigners didn’t have any chance for hanky panky.
Fair enough. Rules are rules, after all, and virtue has to be upheld. But, as Freud would say, there’s a rich undercurrent beneath those rules. First is the celebrated misogyny of the Islamic states. Women are wrapped up, head to ankle, and the presumption is that if they could be seen, they’d corrupt the men. So they can’t be seen, they can’t be let out alone, they can’t be in the presence of a man-not-a-member-of-her-immediate-family (i.e., they have to be chaperoned if her husband-lord-and-master isn’t there). They’re sinful and irresistible and left to their own devices they will drag the men down into a cesspool of lust.
Second, the men have to be protected from them. The consequence is sexual repression on a scale we cannot begin to imagine. I’ve long believed that at least some jihadi terrorism is the result of the strict segregation of the sexes. Young men cannot meet young women, and cannot engage in, uh, sinful behavior with the opposite sex until they marry. Think about those grim religious schools, the madrasas, thousands of which are funded by Saudi money and operated all over the world. Those adolescent boys sit on hard floors and endure hour after hour of religious indoctrination, while their libidos pump them full of dreams and desires…desires that can be fulfilled instantly if they will martyr themselves (72 virgins, etc etc).