The ratbag Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, when not murdering and imprisoning opponents, is endeavouring to free Saudi women from the horrors of extreme Islamic dictates as part of his modernisation agenda. He cites Cairo as his role example, where women dress in Western mode, don’t cover their heads for fear of arousing every male into a sexual frenzy and gad about, to quote Boris, as letterboxes, an apt description for the disgraceful primitive burqas. Needless to say, he faces tremendous clerical opposition and will probably end up being both murdered and unmourned.
He opened his women’s liberation campaign in the worst possible fashion a couple of years back, by allowing women to drive. That was spectacularly foolish and should have been last on his reform list. The inevitable consequences which we all suffer, has simply reinforced the conservative opposition, they understandably crying; “we told you so.”
His broad objective is to establish a western styled modernisation of Saudi Arabia, a commendable goal driven by his wish to create a diverse economy not dependant on oil. To much amusement he’s now trying to build a tourist industry. So far that ambition has been costly as boxing’s wide boys seized their chance and had the Saudis host a heavyweight bout between the limited Anthony Joshua and a fat man. That cost the Saudis half a billion dollars including building (inside a month) a modern stadium.
His latest modernisation lark is to ban public floggings. That said, the Friday afternoon public beheadings and hand-lopping of thieves is to carry on, after all, some moderation is called for when embarking on reforms.
We used to flog criminals, indeed minor Cabinet Minister Ben Couch in the 1980s Muldoon government campaigned to bring back flogging for violent criminals. Ben, a former All Black, was a staunch conservative Morman and although he never said so, probably would have supported restoring capital punishment.
The only time I ever met him he complained about an article I’d written. That was mocking the idiocy peculiar to New Zealand to this day, of companies and professional firms using Post Office boxes as their addresses. The rest of the world (and my company) have the quaint practise of printing their addresses on their stationery where they actually are and thus where the mail is delivered, instead of somewhere else. Ben bitched at me over this, noting what a great earner the Post Office boxes were for the Post Office.
If Ben had been a Saudi Arabian I suspect he’d have been right at home. Certainly he gained considerable support for his “bring back the birch” campaign for violent crims, indeed I’d venture such a campaign might well today.
I’m old enough to recall the public antagonism to Justice Minister Ralph Hanan’s abolition of capital punishment for murder in 1961. For years thereafter polls repeatedly backed a restoration of capital punishment although I doubt they would now.
For the sake of their womenfolk we can only cheer the Saudis on. They’re disliked throughout the Arab world but all the Saudis I’ve ever met have been conspicuously charming, indeed for diverse reasons, quite memorably so.