RIYADH, 5 February 2008 --- A Saudi mother of three, who works as a business partner and financial consultant for a reputable company in Jeddah, didn't expect that a trip to the capital to open the company's new branch office would have her thrown behind bars by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
Yara, a petite 40-year-old woman, was in tears yesterday after she narrated to Arab News her encounter with a commission member that ended in high drama.
Yara, who has been married for 27 years, said she spent several hours in the women's section of Riyadh's Malaz Prison, was strip-searched, ordered to sign a confession that she was in a state of "khulwa" (a state of seclusion with an unrelated man) and for hours prevented from contacting her husband in Jeddah.
Her crime? Having a cup of coffee with a colleague in a Starbucks.
What do you think? I didn't know they had a "religious police" working by itself in Saudi Arabia, and that it was actually allowed for work colleagues to have a coffee together (and that it was the husband who had to call the police if he thought his wife was acting "inappropriately" according to their standards - not that it was being prosecuted "by default").
Anyone who is knowledgeable of these issues who wants to shed some light?
Please keep it civil ...