Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Valentine's Day Massacre

Valentine's Day Massacre

Well, it's Valentine's Day again, and the annual banning for sale of all things red , heart-shaped, or construed in any way to be reflective of the holiday is in full swing here in Saudi Arabia. Red roses? Heart shaped boxes of chocolates? Strawberries? Sexy red lingerie or cute pink teddy bears? Any of these traditional Valentine's Day items are forbidden from being bought or sold in the Kingdom starting the week preceding this special day for lovers. These items are available on the black market during this time at gouged up prices of at least double or more what one would normally pay any other time of the year. The religious police have raided businesses and destroyed or confiscated inventory as well as closing down the guilty shops at a hefty cost to the business owners. On the TV news here today, I even saw a crowd of people, including small children, surrounding a man who was burning red teddy bears and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. The really funny thing is that these items are available here the rest of the year without incident.

The reason for this prohibition is because the religious leaders in Saudi Arabia only support the celebration of two Islamic holidays in this country and any other holiday is forbidden and discouraged. But the religious police here seem to really step up their game in their fight to obliterate the enjoyment of Valentine's Day from the Saudi population, as opposed to other Western holidays.

Their interpretation of Valentine's Day of course has to do with sex because here in Saudi Arabia, in their minds, anything having to do with morality has to do with sex. The religious police are afraid that everyone, married or not, will be out looking for anyone to have sex with - that this is what happens on this day in the West - and their mission is to prevent this from happening. Which is rather funny in a place where men and women are not allowed to socialize together in mixed company anyway. The good people of Saudi Arabia cannot be trusted to behave themselves with the high moral standards that are drilled into them from childhood. So they need religious police here to keep everyone in line.

One of the reasons for the ban on Valentine's Day is because of its Christian origins. But how many people in the West really know the history of Valentine's Day? The truth is that not that many people know or even care. It's a day when we recognize and honor the people we love or who are special to us. And what's wrong with that? The religious police don't want anybody celebrating Christmas or Mother's Day either, but they don't make a big stink about it like they do for Valentine's Day. I get the feeling that many people here resent being treated like children who can't control themselves without the religious police breathing down their necks. In fact many people just react in defiance because of the absurdity of it all, by wearing red accessories or by purchasing red roses when they normally wouldn't. If the religious police didn't make such a big deal about it by having this publicized annual crackdown, to many people here, it would likely be just another day.

I find it ironic that a good intentioned holiday like Valentine's Day is forbidden in this country, while at the same time the women here are put in the uncomfortable position where they are forced to purchase their bras and panties from strange men in lingerie shops. It doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? The women of Saudi Arabia have now organized a two week boycott coinciding with Valentine's Day - rallying against the ridiculous situation of men selling underwear to women. I hope the boycott is a success and sends the message that these crazy confusing contradictions must come to an end... Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone!!!

To read more about Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia and the boycott against buying women's undergarments going on right now, here are some articles:
Happy Valentine's Day...or Not!
Haia Sees Red Again
Ban Men From Selling Lingerie in KSA by SaudiWoman
Ban the Bra...Salesmen!
Peddling Panties


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