How to shoot your mouth off … stupidly

From time to time I stop in and have a read of one of my favourite newspapers, the Arab News. In what has to be one of the best examples of stupidly shooting one’s mouth off a Saudi by the name of Mazen Abdul Jawad who works for Saudi Airlines and lives in Jeddah (my old stamping ground) appeared on Lebanese Television’s (LBC) “Red Line” and was boasting about his sexual conquests.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Doubly dumb as the program goes to air in Saudi Arabia. This was reported last week in a piece, Bragging on TV about sex lands Saudi in hot water in which Jawad was reported as saying:

It all starts with turning my Bluetooth on while cruising around in my car

Not only was he bragging, but he was also identified on the TV show.

So now my favourite Commission, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness) is calling for his punishment under Shariah as is a fair number of the residents of Jeddah. Personally, I think the guy is a boob as well – and probably deserves to be punished if for nothing else, then at least for stupidity.

Anyway, it seems that one week later the guy is still out of gaol as today the Arab News reported that the Sex bragger not jailed yet.

I shall watch this with interest.

The Commission Does Good

It’s been a while since I posted to the blog – my only excuse has been that I have been really busy at work and not that the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness – the infamous C-Men) have been quiet. They haven’t. As is usual here they have been screwing up peoples lives and getting between people and God in an unholy fashion. Their latest episodes generally involve high-speed car chases and accidents that kill the suspects at the end of the chase (something that they are not allowed under law to do) as well as the usual flaunting of the courts and such.

However, occasionally the C-Men do some good and it seems they managed to recently in Makkah. Seems that yesterday the C-Men in Makkah

closed down … a pharmacy for running a confidence racket. The commission said the man running the shop, a Pakistani national, was offering “black magic” services to customers.

Vice police raided the store, which was disguised as a pharmacy, and confiscated amulets and other tools of the trade. The suspect said people were coming to him asking for magical cures because they were unsatisfied with the services they were receiving at area hospitals.

So, some good from the C-Men. The Arab News also reported that in

an unrelated event, a Saudi man was arrested yesterday for running a similar scam from his home. The man was caught after a woman came to him hoping for a magical cure that would prevent her husband from leaving her. After the young woman’s husband left her, she informed her father that she tried a magical cure; the father then informed the moral police.

I recall a while back that they also removed amulets and things that had been thrown off the coast here and disposed of them. Black Magic seems to be alive and well in this country – even when one of the most popular TV shows is Charmed – must be the Power of Three 🙂

Mind you, being a conman here is a bit risky as

the authorities treat confidence rackets as a religious crime, and suspects are often arrested and charged outright with being sorcerers and witches (rather than shysters) for offering various services to people who believe in magical cures and curses. Penalties for such crimes are often quite stiff, even resulting in the death penalty.

Now where did I hide my four-leaf clover? Oh yes – it’s with the rabbit’s foot.

The Commission’s Been At It Again

Those evil buffoons, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness, the C-Men) have been at it again. Not content with beating suspects to death at their headquarters and making a mockery of Saudi justice, not content with scaring old men to death who are just trying to support a large family, not content with abusing women in Riyadh, then ignoring the court and not content with pursuing “suspects” so quickly that they have motor accidents and are killed that way, it seems now that the buffoons – the evil Keystone Kops of Saudi society – now go out cruising and looking for a fight like any old football hooligan used to.

The Arab News on 28 April reported on Undercover Officer Complains of Mistreatment by Vice Cops
which detailed some young blokes being slapped around by the C-Men for doing, well, nothing really.

“We were in Thumama at around 3 a.m., Thursday morning, having fun and joking around, when one of us spotted a commission jeep pass by,” the officer, who requested anonymity, told Arab News.

He said he and his four colleagues were just like any other guys going to Thumama to vent out on a weekend night without the intention of harming any families or looking for trouble.

“A colleague said in a loud voice ‘guys, it’s the Haya’a (commission)!’” he continued. “But we were doing nothing wrong. We did not even have soda pop bottles or play any loud music for them to consider that we were doing something wrong.”

According to the officer, the commission members pulled up in a off-road vehicle bearing the commission’s logo. One commission member accused one of the campers of calling them dogs, then picked out the youngest member of the group, Rami Al-Amri, 18, and began slapping him.

“One of the men said: ‘I’ll teach you who the Haya’a is. We are the government’,” Al-Amri told Arab News. The commission members allegedly proceeded to verbally abuse the campers and impugn their character. Al-Amri claimed that the commission member that was being physically abusive threatened to jail him for three months.

Gee – you gotta watch those soda bottles and music! Really – it is time the Kingdom got rid of these buffoons.

Al-Huraisi Retrial to Begin Next Tuesday

It has been a while since I have written about those evil buffoons here in Saudi Arabia, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (or as I prefer to think of them, the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness – the C-Men). However, they have been in the news here again.

I mentioned the killing of Salman Al-Huraisi by the C-Men in Thomo’s Hole before, and then mentioned the trial of the apparently guilty members (well, they pleaded guilty then recanted that plea under oath in court). You can read those posts here and here.

The Arab News reported on 2 April that a retrial into the death of Al-Huraisi will begin next Tuesday in the Riyadh General Court. You may remember that the C-Men burst commando style into Al-Huraisi’s home as he was apparently a bootlegger and maybe drug pusher. He was beaten to death by two C-Men later at their headquarters.

The Arab News noted in relation to the opening of this case that,

On Nov. 28 last year, the General Court acquitted the two commission members on charges of killing Al-Huraisi, who worked as a security guard, after taking him into custody in a raid on his home in May. The Cassation Court rejected the ruling after identifying several errors, including the judges’ failure to hear eyewitness testimonies.

“As many as seven members of the commission will testify in the new trial, which will begin next week,” said Yahya Al-Huraisi, one of the two lawyers representing the dead man’s family.

Al-Huraisi said the three judges in the original trial relied only on written testimonies taken by the General Investigation and Prosecution Board.

As far as questioning Al-Huraisi went, the autopsy report said that “Al-Huraisi died after suffering a severe blow to his head causing a 6 cm deep fracture to his skull”.

This particularly brutal beating resulted in new rules being issued by the Interior Ministry to prevent the religious police from taking suspects to commission centers. The new regulations require that the C-Men hand detainees into police custody. Incidentally, the C-Men are not supposed to engage in car chases either – but more on that in another post later.

Vice Cops Unearth Magical Objects Hidden in Graves

I forgot to mention. The other day (well , 3 days ago to be exact) the Arab News published a piece about the Vice Cops Unearthing Magical Object Hidden in Graves. This ties in rather nicely with a piece I had here back in October called The C-Men Do Some Good.

Now don’t think that this is a developed country here. There are still problems with people marrying someone from a different tribe and there is a legal system that does not recognise any precedents. This takes the cake, however. The Arab News reported that:

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice [they are the evil buffoons I call the C-Men or the Minsitry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness] discovered 23 black magic works buried in two graves in Al-Aqeefa district of Yanbu. A citizen had alerted the commission on the location of the black magic tokens and they were successfully pulled out of the graves.Ibrahim Al-Jabbari, the local director of the commission, said the removed items had been placed around the heads and legs of the corpses. Among the items were knives and pieces of paper where magical spells were written.

Al-Jabbari said in all the commission found more than 23 black magic works hidden inside deserted graves. The spells were written on knives and papers wrapped inside knots, next to the dead bodies.

A sorcerer who had repented told the commission’s members about 11 magical works hidden inside graves.

Also, a citizen passing by the graves found another eight magical works by coincidence. “I immediately reported to the commission after I found the magic works while walking between graves,” said a citizen who wished to remain anonymous.

OK. So what I want to know from this is how did this passing citizen find another eight magical works by coincidence when these are buried with corpses? What was this citizen doing?

Authorities mobilized their security personnel to guard local cemeteries from further acts of dark magic. Saad Al-Subhi, a cemetery worker, said, “We have intensive security all over the cemetery and if anyone tried to sneak into the cemetery he will get caught.”

Hmm. I am impressed. Obviously security is not that good if at least 2 lots of objects were brought into the cemetary and buried with bodies.

Being the sceptic that I am, I cannot help but think that this is another concocted news release from the C-Men attempting to show their value to Saudi society at a time that they face criticism for the poor performance of their operatives.

Al-Huraisi Killing Case: Court Clears Two C-Men

I noted before that I would keep track of what happened with the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice members on trial for the brutal killing of a suspect under questioning by the membes of the Commission. To recap, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (C-Men or as I prefer to think of them, the Ministry of Lasciviousness and Licentiousness), raided a house compound in Riyadh commando style in May this year. They broke into the house and arrested many people in there for the possession and sale of alcohol and narcotics.

Later, at the C-Men’s headquarters, one of the prisoners, Salman Al-Huraisi was found dead after having been beaten by a metal rod, blows to his head being so severe that they split the head open and caused one of his eyes to “pop out” of its socket. A police investigation, including the questioning of members of the Commission, found that two members had been responsible for the death of Al-Huraisi.

This went to court and in the lead-up process, the Commission tried noting that the members involved were not, in fact, members of the Commission, then they tried to pay “blood money” in advance to the family to drop the charges and even went so far as to say to the family that the Commission would drop the alcohol and narcotics charges if the family would drop the murder charges.

You can read the previous report to this in the entry here of Al-Huraisi Killing Case: Commission Members Deny All Charges which links back to earlier entries. Remember that there are witnesses to the beating, the beating occurred in the Commission’s offices and that the police reports laid the blame on these members. If that was not enough, investigation of the matter was also made by the General Investigation and Prosecution Authority (GIPA – sort of the equivalent of the Crown Prosecutor) and the Governate of Riyadh, both these bodies also finding the men responsible for the death of Salman Al-Huraisi. The men pleaded not guilty. Read on for the next instalment of this.


In yesterday’s Arab News under the title of Court Clears Two Commission Members of Wrongdoing, the paper noted that the judges in this case dismissed the charges on Wednesday in the Riyadh High Court.The C-Men’s lawyer, Yussel Al-Nuaidan said

[the court in Riyadh] acquitted the two members of the Commission of the charge of being directly responsible for the death of Al-Huraisi, for lack of sufficient evidence.

The two C-Men on trial had originally confessed to the judges that they had taken part in the raid and that they beat the suspect causing his death. Then, in a later session they retracted the earlier confession, but the retraction was done under oath. The judges’ ruling was made after listenening to the testimony of eyewitnesses. These eyewitnesses were also C-Men and they confirmed that the two defendants had entered Al-Huraisi’s house with a metal object. These eyewitnesses confirmed the previously confessed series of events.

The judges’ found that trial could not continue as there was not sufficient evidence provided by the attorney representing the deceased’s family. They also noted that the testimonies from eyewitnesses were “not sufficient.”

The Arab News published a section from the ruling, noting:

[The judges mentioned] five reasons in which the three judges have stated to dismiss the case:

  • That the testimonies of the eyewitnesses cannot be accepted because they said Commission members cannot testify against their colleagues;
  • That the two defendants later retracted their confessions;
  • That the testimonies of other Commission members in the case cannot be presented as evidence by the attorney representing the family;
  • That family members have testified that the two defendants had beaten the deceased; and
  • That the testimonies from the two defendants in their earlier confession did not mention that they had beaten the deceased in his head, which is considered the fatal blow which caused the death.

The case will now be transferred to the Cassation Court where judges will either uphold the Riyadh Court’s decision or ask for a re-trial. According to the attorney representing the family of the deceased, Yahya Al-Huraisi, the two Commission members had asked the judges to be released.

Whilst this case has not received the same international attention as the Girl from Qatif case, it is a further example of the lack of any effective system of justice in the Kingdom.

Of course, justice the word is a word coming from Middle English through the Anglo-French justise, from Latin justitia, from justus and is therefore an old Roman concept not an Arabic one.

Al-Huraisi Killing Case: Commission Members Deny All Charges

I mentioned previously that I would keep updating progress on this trial, involving as it does members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (the C-Men). Last Tuesday was a hearing day in the trial in Riyadh and proceedings from the trial were printed in the Arab News on November 7, 2007 under the title Al-Huraisi Killing Case: Commission Members Deny All Charges.

It seems that truth and justice are not two features of the members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Lasciviousness and Licentiousness) although I would have thought that telling the truth was considered a virtue as much here in the Kingdom as it is elsewhere in the world. Seems that under questioning by the three judges that are hearing the case, the two members of the C-Men that are on trial for the alleged murder of Salman Al-Huraisi in May 2007,

denied … that they had beaten the deceased or even took part in a raid on his house

Yahya Al-Huraisi, the attorney representing Al-Huraisi’s family, noted

[that he] explained to the judges the entire scenario of how the commission members raided the house in May, confiscated banned items, and then began beating the deceased while he was handcuffed.

The two defendants, at that point, were asked to respond to the charges. They denied any involvement, whether it was with the beating or them taking part in the raid.

This does, of course, fly in the face of the investigation of the matter by the General Investigation and Prosecution Authority (GIPA) and the Governate of Riyadh, both bodies finding the men responsible for the death of Salman Al-Huraisi. The GIPA is sort of like a Saudi version of the Crown Prosecutor.

Hopefully the judges will sort this out and come to a good judgement. Mind you, the Governorate of Riyadh mentioned that the trial was just one of three cases currently in session regarding the death of Salman Al-Huraisi.

What is certain about this case is that at the C-Men’s centre, Al-Huraisi was beaten until he stopped breathing and was the pronounced dead by a medical team several hours later.

C-Men Arrest Man for Blackmailing Women

From the 6 November issue of the Arab News, it seems that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (our by now famous buffoons also known as the C-Men or the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness), have allegedly being doing good things. There was a report about the C-Men in Mahd-al-Dahab arresting an Arab resident who had been blackmailing a number of women to have sex with him.

According to the C-Men, the man was blackmailing his victims by threatening to post indecent photographs of them on the Internet. Apparently the C-Men found a number of photos and videos of the supposed victims at the man’s apartment.

“The man had been living here for 13 years and was abusing the local people’s goodwill. He used his knowledge of the small local community to manipulate women,” said Ayman Al-Bilahish, head of the commission’s Mahd Al-Dahab branch.

Apparently the man would also force his victims to give him money.

“An address book with his victims’ phone numbers was also found. The commission coordinated with the victims in a confidential manner to avoid them getting in trouble with their family,” said Al-Bilahish.

OK.

So, what’s wrong with all this? Well, given the negative press generated by the C-Men over recent months, at the start of a trial into the C-Men killing a suspect in Riyadh, an unsubstantiated and untraceable good news report comes from the C-Men. In addition, it happens to coincide with a story released by the C-Men some months ago where a similar blackmail scam was foiled by the C-Men.

But most of all, we only have the word of the C-Men that any of this happened and that this took place. So, truth or just trying to create some good news spin?

The C-Men on Trial

The Arab News reported in an article called Al-Huraisi Murder Trial Begins at Riyadh High Court concerning the start of the trial of two members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. These people have been charged with the murder of Salman Al-Huraisi during a raid by the muttawa looking for alcohol. They raided the house that al-Huraisi and his family lived in. The raid was in May this year and this is one of three trials concerning that raid, this one being tried at the Higher Court in Riyadh. The trial started last Tuesday.

Three judges preside over the trial and it began three and a half hours late as the judges were late. The trial is closed to public and press view and only the plaintiffs’ attorney, the two suspects and their attorney were allowed in. The plaintiffs’ are represented by Yahya Al-Huraisi, who is not related. The defendants are being defended by, apparently, a private lawyer, one engaged by them and not related to the government or the Commission.

Yahya Al-Huraisi started the trial by reading the charge sheet and noting that in Islam, a human life is valued and it is forbidden to kill an innocent person. Al-Huraisi told the court that

the two commission members had broken the law during the raid by not only beating Salman to death, but by also forcefully entering the house and arresting female members for suspicion, without the presence of women officers or female representatives.

“The authorities have held these two men responsible for his (Salman’s) death and according to the private rights of the family, we have made it clear to the three judges that we want both commission members to be executed,” the attorney told Arab News after the hearing.

The charge sheet had a copy of the autopsy report – which has been kept from public view and apparently had been difficult to obtain. The autopsy revealed that Salman died as a result of constant beating to his head and body. The next scheduled hearing is set for November 6 and the defendants were remanded in custody.

A statement from the Governorate of Riyadh mentioned that

the trial was just one of three cases currently in session regarding the death of Salman Al-Huraisi. There is another case about the “abuse of authority” by the commission currently being heard in the Court of Grievances in Riyadh. Commission officers who took part in the raid will be held accountable for violations that allegedly took place during the raid.

In a lower court in Riyadh, three relatives of the deceased are being tried in connection to possession of narcotics and alcohol that was found in the house during the raid.

The Commission members who made the raid originally numbered around 18 people and they “swooped down from the roof into the house commando-style”, breaking down doors and searching for alcohol. Perhaps one of the training courses given to the C-Men in future could be titled “Astute Use of The Doorknob”.

Salman and members of his family (both male and female) were arrested and several bottles of liquor and packets of narcotics were found. People were arrested, even when living in other apartments in the building (many Saudi homes are like small compounds, with a high fence and several apartments within the fenced area – these apartments being used by other family members).

Salman was beaten until he stopped moving or breathing at the Commission Centre and was pronounced dead several hours later. The autopsy report apparently mentions that a heavy blow to his head was the cause of death. The Arab News noted:

It said part of his brain came out and one of the eyes popped out as a result of the blow.

I will keep updating this as this is perhaps the most sensational trial to make the newspapers in Saudi Arabia, certainly in the time I have been in this country. It certainly indicates to that the Saudi government has a lot to do to bring the buffoons of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice back into line with the laws they are supposed to uphold and respect.

And the C-Men are in Court

The hearing in the Al-Huraisi Murder Case is supposed to start today. You remember this one, it is the one where members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the C-Men, or as I like to refer to them, the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness – the muttawa) raided the home of Salman Al-Huraisi in Riyadh, detaining many members of his family and apparently (allegedly) beating Al-Huraisi to death.

“One of the three judges presiding over the case today looked at papers submitted by our lawyer and scheduled the hearing for Tuesday,” Ali Al-Huraisi, the victim’s brother, said yesterday.

The Al-Huraisi family is demanding the death penalty for an unnamed commission member. The C-Man has been charged with murder. The Al-Huraisi family was apparently connected with alcohol and narcotics found in the house – something the family has not denied.

Al-Huraisi apparently worked as a security guard at a five-star hotel in Riyadh. He died in late May 2007 after C-Men allegedly beat him following his arrest. Al-Huraisi, together with 11 members of his family, including women and children, were taken to a commission office in the Al-Uraija district of Riyadh where they were detained for various periods ranging from several days to weeks. This is, of course, illegal. The C-Men are only permitted to detain someone who has offended the moral mores of the country long enough to take them to a Police station for formal charging. The evil C-Men are not permitted under Saudi law to interrogate or detain suspects.

It seems that the C-Men have been trying to avoid the court case by settling the matter out of court. Al-Huraisi’s family, however, has stuck to their guns and not succumbed to pressure to drop the case. Apparently relatives have been offered money, cars and title deeds if they drop the case.

The Arab News notes that

Al-Huraisi’s death caused public outrage over the role of the commission. Many writers and columnists have called for the commission to change its methods of operation, particularly the way it deals with people in public.

I’d add to that that they need to change their methods of operation, particularly in the way it deals with people in private as well.