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Saudi dogs: Animal magnetism banned

 Worried that dogs may be helping bring members of the opposite sex together, Saudi Arabia’s Islamic religious police have banned the selling of dogs and cats — and walking them in public — in the capital city of Riyadh.

 Ma’assalama, babe magnets.

 I’m normally not one to criticize an entire culture, but this bothers me on several levels.

 For one, it’s hard to walk a dog in private, and dogs need their walks, and Riyadh is going to have a bunch of very cranky canines on its hands.

 For another, some of us guys – whether our name is “Yasser” or “Doug” – really need all the help we can get.

The prohibition went into effect on Wednesday in the Saudi capital, and authorities said – unlike previous pet bans in Mecca and Jidda, which had little impact – this one will be strictly enforced.

Violators found outside with their pets will have their them confiscated by agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the official name of the religious police. The violator will be forced to sign a document vowing not to repeat the act. If he does, he will be “referred to authorities.”

 According to a Fox News story, the commission’s general manager, Othman al-Othman, said the ban was ordered to combat “the rising of phenomenon of men using cats and dogs to make passes at women and pester families” as well as “violating proper behavior in public squares and malls.”

The Saudi-owned Al-Hayat announced the ban in its Wednesday edition.

Saudi Arabia’s religious police regularly patrol the city to ensure unmarried men and women do not mix, scolding women they feel are not properly covered and urging men to go pray.
 There was no word whether commission authorities intend to expand the dog and cat ban beyond the capital.

The prohibition, the Fox story said, may be more of an attempt to curb the owning of pets, which conservative Saudis view as a sign of corrupting Western influence, like the fast food, shorts, jeans and pop music that have become more common in the kingdom.

 Pet owning has never been popular in the Arab world, but it has recently been catchinig on though among the upper class in Saudi Arabia and other countries such as Egypt.

 In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean and dangerous, though they are kept for hunting and guarding. Cats are held in higher respect, making the ban on them more puzzling.


Comment from debdramby
Time August 5, 2008 at 4:35 pm

You said, “Ma’assalama, babe magnets.” LOL. This really is a shame though. The companionship of a dog and the way animals can bring people together are wonderful experiences that I consider to be positive Western traditions. But at the same time, keeping Islamic traditions in mind, I sort of understand the reasoning. I hope there is an organization set up to care for the confiscated pets…

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