AS if we needed more proof that we are all living in La-La Land here in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah Municipality (whose semi-elected board is dominated by bearded, religious conservatives) has decided to ban the sale of cats and dogs according to this report in Arab News, because according to them owning pets is too much of a “vile” Western intrusion upon Saudi culture and traditions (!).
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice allegedly complained to the municipality that too many young Saudis were buying dogs as pets and causing public disturbances when they took them for walks outside.
Considering that every single Saudi family I know has cats as pets, and the fact that several Saudi government institutions, including most notably Saudi Customs, owns and uses dogs to perform important jobs (such as sniffing out drugs and bombs concealed in cargo and baggage) I find it extremely bizarre that such a ban should be implemented now.
As a proud owner of a Terrier dog, called Nog Nog, I am appalled at this move to once again appease the religious conservatives, who have wielded far too much power in this country for far too long. (For those of you who don’t know, most religious Muslims shirk dogs for being “unclean”, but cats have always been kosher in Muslim life.)
This edict comes on the heals of the formation of a new morality squad, also ordered by the bearded fellows on the municipal council, which has recently shut down a popular café on Tahlia Street after it supposedly found hash mixed in the tobacco of its hubbly bubblies. Now, all coffee shops on Tahlia have been barred from serving shisha because of the alleged mistake of one establishment.
An electronic petition on the Internet calling on the mayor of Jeddah to stop this new morality squad from further ruining the city’s well-earned reputation as the fun city of the Kingdom has already garnered more than 900 signatures.
That may not seem like a lot to people from countries with far more active civil societies, but for Saudi it’s a start. Here’s the link. The petition is in Arabic, but sign it if you are a Jeddah resident.