Monday, April 25, 2005

GOOD TO SEE OUR FRIENDS IN SAUDI ARE BIG ON THE FREEDOMS

Normally, we'd be delighted to hear that someone has been arrested shortly after winning a TV talent show, but it seems a bit unfair on Hisham Abdel Rahman, winner of Star Academy. His crime? Not releasing pisspoor cover versions of 60s hits, not even muttering that he'd have made it without the contest. Oh, no. He's in trouble because men and women rushed forward to shake his hand and kiss him when he won:

Male and female fans had spotted Abdel Rahman, 24, strolling through Kingdom Tower Mall on Wednesday and rushed to shake his hand and bestow congratulatory kisses, a police official said.

Members of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the formal name for Saudi Arabia's religious police, doing their regular mall patrol were offended by the scene, which they deemed "improper," the policeman said on condition of anonymity.

The religious police tried to disperse the crowd and told Abdel Rahman to leave the mall, according to local newspaper accounts confirmed by the police official. The young star, however, reportedly refused and started squabbling with the enforcers of virtue.

Abdel Rahman was forcibly escorted out of the mall and taken to religious police offices for questioning. He was held briefly before a senior government official intervened and ordered him freed, the police officer said. The Arab News, an English-language Saudi daily, reported that the intervention was a telephone call from the office of Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman.


Excellent work, religious police. Without your sharp eyes, Saudi Arabia might be in danger of moving towards modernity.


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