This post comes to us from SilverUnderground.com – the blog and sister-site of Silver Circle Movie. It was authored by Davi Barker, the Muslim Agorist. Each week the site names a “Rebel of the Week” – this week the person chosen was an as-of-yet-unidentified woman in Saudi Arabia who’s actions, captured and shared on video, undoubtedly have planted seeds of self-ownership in many throughout the world. -Pete
Rebel of the Week: Rebellious Saudi Woman Who Cop Blocked the Religious Police
A YouTube video of a Saudi woman defying religious police has gone viral, attracting more than a million hits. The video was captured on her mobile phone and shows officers from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordering her to leave a shopping mall for wearing nail polish, apparently in violation of some stifling and arbitrary dress code. The unidentified woman is not seen in the video, but she is heard defiantly shouting, “You’re not in charge of me!”
This strikes particularly close to home for me because as a kid we lived in Saudi Arabia for a year or so where my dad filmed commercials for one of these malls. It was pretty clever actually. He repelled off the building dressed as a cat burglar and then ran the tape in reverse so it looked he was scaling the building to rob the place. At every floor he would look in the window and see better and better deals until he decided it was better to shop there instead of stealing. My mom was harassed by some of these same theocrat goons. She was told by the government that she was not required to cover her hair because she isn’t Muslim, but that didn’t stop the religious police from teasing and pinching her when she went out in public.
In those days they just pulled the tape out of her camera. So I’m particularly enthused to award this courageous woman, whoever she is, Rebel of the Week.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff crammed into this short little video that needs unpacking. For example, the video was publicized by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) which is generally regarded as an Israeli propaganda machine posing as a news outlet. But in this case, it doesn’t matter. One way in which citizen journalism is changing life on this planet is that more often than not we have access to raw footage. So, maybe MEMRI is biased. Maybe they publicized the video because they like poking fun at the Saudi government for actually thinking religious police is a good idea. But who cares. The video is raw, which means the story is ours to tell.
This is great news because it means the information revolution is unstoppable. When we lived in Saudi Arabia every single piece of media had to pass through the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice before it could enter the country. When we got it back huge sections of everything were blacked out because they were deemed obscene. We used to watch VHS tapes filled with long recordings of American television that had been smuggled into the country just to get children’s cartoons. Now a woman can single handedly broadcast to the entire world right under the Vice Commission’s nose. She said it herself, “For your information, the video is on its way to Twitter and Facebook as we speak.” When censorship becomes completely impossible totalitarianism is not long for this world.
She said something else that caused me to do a full double take. She said, “The government said there would be no more persecution of women.” Now, I have no illusions of any government telling its people the truth, but I couldn’t imagine any Saudi official actually saying that, so I did some Googling. Apparently in January, King Abdullah appointed a new head of the religious police named Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al Sheikh. She actually named him while yelling at the police. She says, “One more word from you, and it will reach Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, and he will deal with your mess.” In April he prohibited the religious police from “harassing people.” The new head is regarded as a “moderate” and reportedly limited the goon squad to an advisory role with no enforcement power.
Most importantly it’s the woman herself. She boldly takes no guff from these thugs, and if it tells me anything it all it’s that when freedom comes to Saudi Arabia is going to be championed by women like this.
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