Politics & Policy

Neocon Barbie

The kingdom gets cracking.

The terrorist suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia this week is yet another indication of what millennial fanaticism can do in the name of religion. This terrorist act, however, was as much directed at the Saudi monarchy as it was against the Great Satan. The Saudi regime is sitting on a powder keg and nothing it has done — closing down American bases — or will do — like allowing the religious and morality police to launch a website — will help maintain the monarchy. Employing high-powered public relations to persuade Western opinion that the monarchy is modernizing may convince gullible correspondents but al Qaeda knows better.

Thanks to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) I have a translation of the website. This may be the 21st century but not for al Qaeda’s Islamists. They have harnessed ultra-modern technology to 7th-century theological prescriptions. This website, an attempt to appease al Qaeda, could not have been created without approval of the Saudi monarchy, which is also financing it.

#ad#The Saudi religious and morality police are formally known as “The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices.” Their power over the Saudi people and government is enormous. Its website posts news items, citizens’ violations, and includes a section that allows citizens to inform anonymously on persons they suspect of violating religious and moral laws. The following is a MEMRI summary of the website’s recent content:

Among news items posted on the Authority website were articles detailing the confiscation of CDs containing “permissive materials,” the arrest of an Asian man belonging to the Sufi sect of Islam who “engaged in witchcraft”; a study on the role of the Authority in the struggle against “ideological invasion”; a report on the flogging of four people accused of harassing girls as they were leaving school, and a report on the burning of 250,000 forbidden articles such as “texts contradicting the faith, shoes with the name of Allah written on them, [and] items for the Holiday of Love [i.e. Valentine’s Day].

The site also reported that a man was arrested selling CDs containing “permissive materials at a minimal price of ten riyals (two dollars).” Also according to the website, “the enemies of Islam” had allowed in to the country video games for Sony Playstation which allegedly contained sexual content. “The Authority confiscated 130 such CDs, destroyed them, and punished the criminal.”

Another section of the website, the “Exhibit of Violations,” displays confiscated items from the “permanent collection of violations of Islamic law at Authority headquarters in Al-Madina.”

The section shows photos of perfume bottles shaped like a woman’s torso, with text reading:

Perfume, but…! Examples of perfumes with good fragrances for women and evil bottles that harm the honor of the woman and undermine her morality. We must beware. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Any woman who wears perfume and passes by people so they can smell it is a whore …”

Also shown is a photo of several Barbie dolls, along with the text:

The enemies of Islam want to invade us with all possible means, and therefore they have circulated among us this doll, which spreads deterioration of values and moral degeneracy among our girls.” On the photo, under the heading “The Jewish Doll,” is a story titled “The Strange Request.” The story reads: “One girl said to her mother: ‘Mother, I want jeans and a shirt open at the top, like Barbie’s!!’ The dolls of the Jewish Barbie in her naked garb [sic], their disgraceful appearance, and their various accessories are a symbol of the dissolution of values in the West. We must fully comprehend the danger in them.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for the Washington Times.

NR Staff — Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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