Don’t trivialize it by calling it a “trend”, but it looks like some women are getting a little sick of the paternal faux-piety of the morality police, aka the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
In the first incident, according to the Saudi Gazette, a young couple “appeared to be acting in an inappropriate manner” in an amusement park. A commission member who spotted them suspected they were not married or related and were therefore breaking the law. As the commission member approached them, the young man collapsed – presumably out of shock or fright – but the woman showered him with punches. He was taken to a medical centre to be treated for bruises. In the second incident, which the LA Times calls an unprecedented outburst, a woman caught in “illegal seclusion” with a man shot at the religious police when questioned.
Some other interesting signs of change:
Princess Basma bint Saud, “a social activist and a prominent supporter of women’s issues in Saudi Arabia”, published a strong critique of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
King Abdallah appeared in a photograph with forty women with naked faces! “Most observers took it as a pointed message from the royals on the subject of men mixing with women…”
Earlier this month Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah declared that women could teach boys’ primary school classes.
Mecca cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi publicly “declared that nothing in Islam bans men and women from mixing in public places like schools and offices.”
Last December Saudi journalist Nadine Al Bedair published the article Me and My Four Husbands, a tongue in cheek critique of sexism and unequal polygamy laws.
In 2009 Nora Al Fayez became the first female deputy minister in the Saudi government.