Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This will be a very long war ...

The ideological core of Islamic Terrorism is the home and bank of Salafism/Wahhabiam- Saudi Arabia. Nowhere is there a better description of the culture clash that we many of us have seen in the Islamic world than Saudi Arabia (though the Las Vegas of the Arab world, Bahrain, is more fun).

In the NYT, there are a few tidbits to chew on.
Young men like Nader and Enad are taught that they are the guardians of the family’s reputation, expected to shield their female relatives from shame and avoid dishonoring their families by their own behavior. It is a classic example of how the Saudis have melded their faith with their desert tribal traditions.

“One of the most important Arab traditions is honor,” Enad said. “If my sister goes in the street and someone assaults her, she won’t be able to protect herself. The nature of men is that men are more rational. Women are not rational.
With one or two or three words, a man can get what he wants from a woman. If I call someone and a girl answers, I have to apologize. It’s a huge deal. It is a violation of the house.”

Enad is the alpha male, a 20-year-old police officer with an explosive temper and a fondness for teasing. Nader, 22, is soft-spoken, with a gentle smile and an inclination to follow rather than lead.
As if. Guys, you know less about women than you know about good beer. But, lets wander through this twisted mass of cluelessness, frustration and misogyny. What new he11 is this?
“I’m very romantic,” Nader said. “I don’t like action movies. I like romance. ‘Titanic’ is No. 1. I like ‘Head Over Heels.’ Romance is love.”

Three days later, in a nearby restaurant, Nader and Enad were concentrating on eating with utensils, feeling a bit awkward since they normally eat with their right hands.

Suddenly, the young men stopped focusing on their food. A woman had entered the restaurant, alone. She was completely draped in a black abaya, her face covered by a black veil, her hair and ears covered by a black cloth pulled tight.

“Look at the batman,” Nader said derisively, snickering.

Enad pretended to toss his burning cigarette at the woman, who by now had been seated at a table. The glaring young men unnerved her, as though her parents had caught her doing something wrong.

“She is alone, without a man,” Enad said, explaining why they were disgusted, not just with her, but with her male relatives, too, wherever they were.

When a man joined her at the table — someone they assumed was her husband — she removed her face veil, which fueled Enad and Nader’s hostility. They continued to make mocking hand gestures and comments until the couple changed tables. Even then, the woman was so flustered she held the cloth self-consciously over her face throughout her meal.

“Thank God our women are at home,” Enad said.
Can you follow those twists and turns? It does help explain a few of the differences between Western Civilization and Saudi Civilization.

There is also this little jewel, in spite of the lost Hesham Islam influenced Bush Administration's protestations to the contrary,
To Nader and Enad, prayer is essential. In Enad’s view, jihad is, too, not the more moderate approach that emphasizes doing good deeds, but the idea of picking up a weapon and fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Jihad is not a crime; it is a duty,” Enad said in casual conversation.

“If someone comes into your house, will you stand there or will you fight them?” Enad said, leaning forward, his short, thick hands resting on his knees. “Arab or Muslim lands are like one house.”

Would he go fight?

“I would need permission from my parents,” he said.

Nader, though, said, “Don’t ask me. I am afraid of the government.”

The concept is such a fundamental principle, so embedded in their psyches, that they do not see any conflict between their belief in armed jihad and their work as security agents of the state. As a police officer, Enad helps conduct raids on suspected terrorist hideouts. Nader works in the military as a communications officer.
Tough guys.
Each earns about 4,000 riyals a month, about $1,200, not nearly enough to become independent from their parents. But that is not a huge concern, because fathers are expected to provide for even their grown children, to ensure that they have a place to live and the means to get married.

To many parents, providing money is seen as more central to their duty — their honor — than ensuring that their children get an education.

Each young man has the requisite mustache and goatee, and most of the time dresses in a traditional robe. Nader prefers the white thobe, an ankle-length gown; Enad prefers beige.

But on weekends, they opt for the wild and crazy guy look, often wearing running pants, tight short-sleeved shirts, bright colors, stripes and plaids together, lots of Velcro and elastic on their shoes. In Western-style clothes, they both seem smaller, and a touch on the pudgy side. Nader says softly, “I don’t exercise.”
OK, I guess.
There are eight other children in the house where Enad lives with his father, his mother and his father’s second wife. The apartment has little furniture, with nothing on the walls. The men and boys gather in a living room off the main hall, sitting on soiled beige wall-to-wall carpeting, watching a television propped up on a crooked cabinet. The women have a similar living room, nearly identical, behind closed doors.

The house remains a haven for Enad and his cousins, who often spend their free time sleeping, watching Dr. Phil and Oprah with subtitles on television, drinking cardamom coffee and sweet tea — and smoking.
Hey! A few victories in the Culture Wars! Yea West! Back to the misogyny.
Enad and Nader were always close, but their relationship changed when Nader and Sarah became engaged. Enad’s father agreed to let Nader marry one of his four daughters. Nader picked Sarah, though she is not the oldest, in part, he said, because he actually saw her face when she was a child and recalled that she was pretty.

They quickly signed a wedding contract, making them legally married, but by tradition they do not consider themselves so until the wedding party, set for this spring. During the intervening months, they are not allowed to see each other or spend any time together.

Nader said he expected to see his new wife for the first time after their wedding ceremony — which would also be segregated by sex — when they are photographed as husband and wife.

“If you want to know what your wife looks like, look at her brother,” Nader said in defending the practice of marrying someone he had seen only once, briefly, as a child. That is the traditional Nader, who at times conflicts with the romantic Nader.
Dude. On your wedding night - do not say, "You remind me of your brother." Seriously. Oh, and should we review the genetics?
Nader grew up in Riyadh, and his parents, like Enad’s, are first cousins. Enad says his way of thinking was forged in the village of Najkh, 350 miles west of Riyadh, where he lived until he was 14 with his grandfather. It is where he still feels most comfortable.
Enad and Nader, as a reminder, are cousins also. They will soon be brothers-in-laws as well. I'll let you do the math.

No wonder they blow themselves up.
Inside there is no furniture, just a few cushions on the floor and a prayer rug pointing in the direction of Mecca. Enad and his cousins absentmindedly toss trash out the kitchen window, and around the yard, expecting that the “houseboy,” a man named Nasreddin from India, will clean up after them — and he does.

Enad is quiet and hides his cigarettes when his grandfather comes through. He would never tell his father or grandfather that he smokes. Enad remains stone-faced when a cousin mentions that another of his cousins, a woman named Al Atti, 22, is interested in him. The topic came up because another cousin, Raed, had asked Al Atti to marry him, and she refused.

The conflict and flirtation touched on so many issues — manhood, love, family relations — that it sparked a flurry of whispering, and even Enad was drawn in.

Al Atti had let her sisters know that she liked Enad, but made it clear that she could never admit that publicly. So she asked a sister to spread the word from cousin to cousin, and ultimately to Enad. “It’s forbidden to announce your love. It is impossible,” she said.

Word finally reached Enad, who tried to stay cool but was clearly interested, and flattered. At that point Enad was himself whispering about Al Atti, trying to figure out a way to communicate with her without actually talking to her himself. He asked a female visitor to arrange a call, and then pass along a message of interest.

Enad said it was never his idea to pursue her, but that a man — a real man — could not reject a woman who wanted him. To get his cousin Raed out of the picture, he suggested that Al Atti’s brother take Raed to hear Al Atti’s refusal in person, at her house.

“From behind a wall,” Enad said.

“Love is dangerous,” Al Atti said as she sat with her sisters in the house. “It can ruin your reputation.”
Want to love Western Civilization, warts and all, more? Read more here.

Final note on the journalistic "what were you thinking?" line;
Asking a woman for her number can cause a young man anxiety anywhere. But in Saudi Arabia, getting caught with an unrelated woman can mean arrest, a possible flogging and dishonor, the worst penalty of all in a society where preserving a family’s reputation depends on faithful adherence to a strict code of separation between the sexes.

Above all, Nader feared that his cousin Enad al-Mutairi would find out that he was breaking the rules. Nader is engaged to Enad’s 17-year-old sister, Sarah. “Please don’t talk to Enad about this,” he said. “He will kill me.”
Michael - I think he meant it. I hope you ran that by Nader.

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