A personal account of Sharia law in action in Saudi Arabia

Young woman in Saudi Arabia

CHARLOTTE, NC, May 14, 2014 — Until you have lived under Sharia law, it is difficult to relate to the oppressive denial of freedoms we so often take for granted in the United States.

Recently I received an e-mail from a former colleague who has been living in Saudi Arabia for over 12 years. He was writing to tell a story about how he had been arrested and detained for more than five hours for a seemingly harmless gesture of friendship.

The incident reminded me of a similar situation I personally experienced while living in Saudi Arabia, and it occurred to me that briefly sharing these events might create further awareness of the medieval societies we are dealing with in the Middle East.


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A former British colleague, aka Pete, was working in an office with an Indian secretary who was a Muslim woman. As required, she wore the traditional black abaya and head covering though she was not veiled.

One afternoon, Pete received a call from his secretary’s husband informing him he had to work late and asked if he could give his wife a ride home.

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, so it is frequently a great inconvenience for them to do even simple errands that are routine in this country.

My associate and his secretary left work, got in the car and started home, not realizing that a mutaween (Saudi religious policeman) had spotted them and began to follow.

While driving along the four-lane corniche highway which runs along the coast, Pete’s cell phone rang, so he pulled over to answer it. It was then that the mutaween pulled in front of Pete’s car to block him from driving forward.

Pete put his car in reverse, drove around the policeman and headed to a compound where he could find someone who spoke English and Arabic to report his pursuer.

Rather than helping Pete, the compound official called local police who came and arrested him for driving a female who was not a relative.

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During his five hour ordeal at the police station, the religious policeman and other police officers laughed and joked, all while documenting the incident without asking Pete a single question.

Finally the husband was called to the station, along with Pete’s Saudi sponsor, to verify the story. In order to be released, Pete was forced to sign a quarter-inch thick crime report written entirely in Arabic stating he would never give a ride to any women in the future.

Preposterous as it might sound, I can relate a similar incident in which I was also detained on two occasions for simply taking pictures. The first happened while snapping a shot of a palace that was being built just beyond the walls of my compound.

For that I spent three hours sitting in 120-degree heat in my care while three different law enforcement agencies tried to determine proper procedures. Following that I was taken to jail and held for two more hours before signing a report similar to Pete’s that I would never again take pictures in Saudi Arabia.

The following day, I was stopped again because I had been reported by a local citizen to the Saudi police who saw me taking pictures of a mosque prior to the first arrest.

This time I, too, had to be vindicated by my sponsor before being released.

Admittedly, I was naïve for taking a picture of a mosque. Pete, on the other hand, has been living in Saudi for more than a decade and never gave the idea of giving a female co-worker a ride home a second thought.

The problem with Sharia law is that the rules are constantly changing and always subject to interpretation.

The same is true of Islam. Until Western minds begin to think in a like manner, we will never be able to cope with Islam and Sharia in a reasonable manner.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).

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  • thinkingabovemypaygrade

    Part of the REAL war on women…(which also is a war on the culture)!!! Sharia law…treating women like criminals just because they’re women!

  • Parrish Quick

    “Until Western minds begin to think in a like manner, we will never be able to cope with Islam and Sharia in a reasonable manner.” Since I have no intention of EVER setting foot on arab soil as an American citizen, what is the purpose changing how I think!? I don’t and won’t intend to do so. They can keep there medeval traditions and I’ll keep my 21st century western traditions, laws, principles. I have no need for mutual understanding with respect to sharia!

    • bweez b-wildered b-wise

      Parrish, they just passed a law in Dearborn, Michigan that says the courts are allowed to use Sharia law. Their population is 30% Muslim, hardly a majority. They lie and say that it will only apply to property disagreements, but their intention is to use “precedent” to bring it into other issues of “their” law. We’ve already seen “honor killings” (fathers or brothers killing they’re teenaged girls for being too Americanized and “shaming” the family) on our own shores! Look soon, for women to be stoned for allegations of adultery and thieves to have their hands chopped off and eventually beheadings. This prophecy is in the Bible from 2000 years ago, “that Christians would be beheaded in the end-times.” I wondered how this could be possible with modern technology being so much more efficient. But the radical Muslims are taking us back to the 7th century with their swords and scimitars. We must be aware of their treachery and the fact that they are allowed by the Koran to lie, maim and kill to become the conquerors. The word “Islam” actually means “peace by submission.” Be Muslim or die. They are in our country! I believe the quote, “Until Western minds begin to think in a like manner, we will never be able to cope with Islam and Sharia in a reasonable manner,” doesn’t mean that we should act like them, but that we must understand the underlying evil of the “wrong side” of that religion. if they become more powerful in each of our cities, we WILL have to deal with it, if we NEVER go to Saudi Arabia. Just as one politician said, “If we don’t stop the enemy over there, they’ll come here.” And THAT they have done. PS If you are a moderate or peaceful Muslim… I hope that you protect yourself. as well, soon this scourge will be upon you as well… for your lack of zeal. I’m glad that my Messiah loves me and does not demand that I conquer other people, only my own broken, sin-ridden self, with His loving help. Jesus is a much kinder. loving Messiah. He loves you too.

      • Parrish Quick

        I wouldn’t classify myself as moderate as I once was, and I was saved long ago by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While I am trying my best daily to live in his word, they push to hard, to often, and to close! For the record, it is not conquest I desire but defense of western, and more specifically American traditions, values, and principles. We are the same page, I am just a touch more animated perhaps.

  • Rami

    Saudi Arabia is a holy land. It has to be religious.
    If you don’t like it then simply leave, because the citizens there enjoy it.

    • Juan José Rivera Díaz

      The same goes or the muslim immigrants in the west, who want to impose Sharia where they are aliens. If they don’t like it, why don’t they just leave?

      • Rami

        That’s because your country allowed freedom of speech. If you don’t like Muslims stating their opinion then that’s your problem.

        • Juan José Rivera Díaz

          One thing is freedom of speech. Sharia law is complete lunacy. Freedom of speech is banned under Sharia Law. Devout muslims must leave the west and go live under their stinking sharia law in their “holy” land in Saudi Arabia.

      • Rami

        That’s because America destroyed their land. Where else do you want them to go? If they left them alone, they wouldn’t have left in the first place.

        • Juan José Rivera Díaz

          Are you joking right? Muslims leave their countries because they want a better life in the west. Not because the “west destroyed it”.
          Quite a stupid comment from your part actually, taking the fact that MUSLIMS are destroying entire christian communities in Iraq and Syria (And I guess in every single islamic country).
          Those people DO have to leave because muslim psychos destroyed their land. Those Christians and the yezidis are the real owners of those countries, not muslims.

          • Rami

            Notice how countries in The Middle East America didn’t get involved in have better lives and rarely immigrate. 🙂
            Those Muslim pschos were created by the CIA to have an excuse to take Iraq’s oil.

          • Juan José Rivera Díaz

            1. Name those countries
            2. The CIA might created those groups, but the ideology is pure Islam. Unless you tell me the CIA also created Muhammad and Islam, and the Qur’an, the Sira and the Sunnah.

          • Rami

            Not to mention, those countries still arent even 90 years old.

    • billy

      coming from a male ,,,islam is a mans religion

    • Scott Johnson

      Rami, people like you are the reason we Americans have guns. Attempt sharia here and expect your blood to spill. God is good, all the time.

      • Rami

        Lol, I never said the whole world should have it. Saudi Arabia has it, and it’s a monarchy. So, what do you expect?

      • Rami

        Lol, now you sound like a terrorist. But that’s none of my business…

    • Stephen D. Raynor Sr.

      It is not a holy land but only a creation of one to control many by fear and death !!

      • Rami

        The prophet is buried here. Just I case you didn’t know.

        • Juan José Rivera Díaz

          There’s a tomb. They say is the prophet’s. But there’s no single historical account of his existence. No record from the bizantines or the persians. His biography came until late VIII century, and the Hadiths until mid IX century. Muhammad is a fictional character.

  • Don

    So the guy who gets his head chopped off for some petty crime or some made up law of religion, likes it there, thats cool, maybe he likes all the virgins he will see when he gets to his place he call heaven.

  • nobamasux

    <——————– MUSLIM!

  • Defend The Constitution

    While many socialist demands arise from envy, socialists also demand that subjective judgements of merit replace objective morals & utility.