Saudi Arabia: Would Female Muttawa be More Lenient or More Strict?

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (aka Religious Police) plan to hold a recruitment drive in order to hire more female muttawa.  Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz Al-Sheik believes that having more female muttawa on the staff would not only present a better image but make it easier to enforce dress codes and other issues related to Islamic behavior and actions on the part of women.

Some look upon the appointment of female muttawa as signs of reform.  Rather than women being approached by the intimidating male muttawa they will now face one of their own, a woman.

I have mixed views on this point.  The article does not indicate that with hiring female muttawa, the number of male muttawa would decrease.  It seems to me that there would be more muttawa overall for the promotion (read enforcement) of virtue and prevention of vice.

I also think that a female muttawa may be more aggressive to a woman than a male muttawa.  This is only my opinion but I can not envision a “soft mannered” woman taking a position as a female muttawa.  Rather I see a woman who is zealous is her faith and determined to have what she perceives as the only way to present her faith followed.

What do you think?

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14 Responses

  1. I’m a bit confused with this. I always thought that any woman on the streets of Riyhad was required to wear Niqab, and abaya. Then a Saudi national told me that foreigners are not required. So, if I was Saudi woman who looked German, how would they know?

    And, if woman has Niqab and abaya on, what would Muttawa have to complain about? One woman told me she was in shopping center in pants with no Hijab, what gives?

    I have not been there, and at my age, there is no chance this will happen.

  2. “I also think that a female muttawa may be more aggressive to a woman than a male muttawa. This is only my opinion but I can not envision a “soft mannered” woman taking a position as a female muttawa. Rather I see a woman who is zealous is her faith and determined to have what she perceives as the only way to present her faith followed.”

    Correct conclusion.

    The system’s deception is deeper and more dangerous than Al-Alshaikh and his handlers want us and the Saudi people to believe. The whole idea of the religious police, especially since King Faisal conspired with the Ulama and overthrew his brother, King Saud, in 1964 is to spy on and terrorize people.

    Saudi men were mostly the religious police main target, but since women became more educated, active and outspoken against their severe oppression, the theocratic and autocratic ruling men want to expand their razor-sharp surveillance over all members of society.

    Appointment of female religious police won’t be based on kindness, open mindedness, empathy or better education than their male counterpart; however, having female religious police spying and controlling women’s activities and movements makes it more acceptable to the Saudi male population and by extension makes the system look more sensitive to local norms and as an equal opportunity employer.

    The stagnation of the ruling men’s mentality and vision is theirs and the country’s number one enemy. Not only are they in denial, but they are going after those enlightened Saudi men and women, including some royals, who are trying to help the ruling elites understand that the Saudi people are not stupid, ignorant or violent.

    Like their counterparts in the region and globally, the Saudi people are becoming more aware of their usurped rights and want more freedom as opposed to handouts and use of religion as a tool of oppression.

  3. I have a basic problem with the ‘enforcement of Islamic values’ part .
    Why would you need to enforce this on adults? Treat people as adults, set your laws and you can do away with muthawwa itself. A much cheaper and safer option

  4. I’ve had issues with Muslim men, mostly physical harassment etc….but Muslim women have given me far more grief with their verbal abuse. Slander, gossip, judgement etc.. While in Saudi in the prophets mosque in a woman’s only section…the female security were going around with switches harassing women for improper hijab, myself included…and I hated the fact that they were behaving even worse then men. Where’s the solidarity…where’s the compassion for what your own gender suffers along with you?

    Women, hands down, treat each other far worse then men do. Female muttawa make me feel even worse the women of Saudi.

  5. Please apology if my comment might not relate to this post, but I had an interesting experience in regard to this matter. Last Thursday I went to Body Shop at Granada mall. As I came in I saw two ladies wearing niqab in the shop instead of male staffs. First I thought they were customers until one of the lady approached me and politely told me to put on my head scarf. At that moment I thought she was a female Muttawa. So, I put it on and grabbed the things I needed and wanted to leave the shop as soon as I paid. But then I saw her told the other staff who was busy tidying up to serve me. That’s when I realised she worked for the Body Shop, not a female Muttawa. Meanwhile, while I was still being served, another female customer came. Her hair was uncovered. So she was also told to cover her hair. But instead of following the order like me, this lady costumer walked away to see some products and left the shop without buying anything. I must admit, I wish I did the same.

    I must underline, there was no aggressive manner from the Body Shop staff and she also didn’t say anything as the other customer preferred to ignore her order. However I was quite taken aback. It was a very uncomfortable moment that I was kind of ‘told off’ while I wanted to spend my money there, especially after I got used to the nice service from the previous male staffs. If I would have known that she was the Body Shop staff instead of a Muttawa, I probably just left the shop like the other customer. It was not putting on my scarf that bothered me because I normally don’t mind to wear it if I think I should do. It was just being told in front of other people was quite embarrassing for me. To be frank, I would prefer a sticker or sign on the entrance door that female customers should put on head scarf rather than being told personally. But that’s my opinion. I also would like to know whether other readers had the same experience in other malls or shops.

  6. Radha agree with you what you said.

  7. So far all the Muttawa who have ordered me to “cover my hair because I’m in Saudi” have done so from behind as men as not supposed to confront women face to face. I would imagine the only reason they want females would be to be more in our faces.
    And just like Coolred, I have found women to be more spiteful. They gossip in your face don’t seem a bit concerned that the person they’re talking about knows. Actually they seem to want you to know. I have lived in Libya before Saudi & in both place people tell the women are envious because Foreigners don’t have to wear hijab.

  8. No positive change is likely to happen in Saudi Arabia without transforming the Saudi political, religious, economic, social, educational and judicial infrastructure. One has to understand the underpinnings of the Saudi duplicitous system. It was and still setup to serve two families, the Saudi/Wahhabi clans and their descendants who still consider the country their private property and the people are there to serve them and be grateful for doing that.

    The same thing exists in the rest of the Gulf Arab states. This is evidenced by the fact that the ruling men keep people dependent on their handouts instead of building industries to employee people so they can have stake in the system and become economically self-reliant. It is not accident that most of the work in Saudi Arabia and in the other Gulf states is performed by cheap labor expatriates who are treated with utter contempt, “modern slavery.”

    Saudi women are not kept in black garment and behind high walls because god demands it. It’s because the system is based on dividing people along gender, religious, ethnic and regional lines. Those Westerners and other who still think the Saudi people are lazy and only want to be manager have to think twice.

    I and tens of thousands of Saudi men came from proud tribes, but worked as “office boys”, truck drivers, ditch diggers, pipelines builders, cooks, bus boys and oil operators. We were grateful for having jobs that provided us with food, medication, education and respect while working 8 to ten hours a day, rain or shine.

    Millions of Saudis did the same thing over the years and were good at what they did because there was a system that paved the way for progress based on meritorious performance and rewards. Once we finished working and returned to our barracks in the oil industry, we were faced by religious police and other royal security personnel whose job, then and now, is to interrogate, humiliate and ensure slavery like existence.

    Hiring Saudi women, who have been brainwashed and coerced into believing that they are subservient to men, to be religious police is because they will reinvigorate and strengthen the repressive system whose survival depends on divide and conquer.

    The good thing is that people are more aware of their rights and of the system’s maneuvers now more than ever. Women are rising, youth spend more time on twitter and facebook than reading the Quran or in mosques and the Saudi/Wahhabi descendants are fighting over policies, supremacy and over who should get a bigger piece of the pie.

    The discussants on this blog and others who are obsessed with discussing the relationship between a few Saudi men and Western sanctified women should spend time understanding the root causes of the bigger problems, such as the Saudi socialization process, what’s behind it and why. No on discusses the spread and financing of the Saudi lethal doctrine whose singular objective is to undermine or destroy freedom of expression as exemplified by King Abdullah’s call on the UN to pass a law to criminalize criticism of religions. It’s the system stupid.

  9. I guess with female Muttawas in the picture it would cause anewed-extra friction between male and female Muttawas.

  10. More so between women. The intent is to create layers of divisions to keep people fighting and blaming each other. It’s like the religious divides: Sunnis v. Shi’a, Suffis, Ahmadiis, Ismaelis and religious v. liberals.

  11. Carol, I don’t know who the ‘Wendy’ is who posted above but she is not me, from Canada, who is a regular poster. Perhaps she could change her name for the blog???

    Anyway, women mutts would be a step backward AND it would get nasty. Women can be very nasty, worse than men.

  12. Hi Wendy (too). I am not a regular commenter, so I didn’t know there is someone else named Wendy. Sorry for causing a confusion. Next time I will use a nickname instead of my original name. And I am not from Canada 🙂

  13. That might be a good idea so we don’t get mixed up. 🙂 Welcome to the blog!

  14. Haha…I was like I didn’t know Wendy was in Saudi right now. But now I know there are two Wendys. When I created a WordPress account, I couldn’t use “Susanne” because one already existed – thus the numbers. So I’m a little bit surprised there can be two just named Wendy.

    Anyway.

    I enjoyed the comments on this post.

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