DRACONIAN

11.19.11

Saudi Arabia's Religious Police Outlaw 'Tempting Eyes'

In the latest affront to women's rights, the U.S. ally has announced that it has the right to cover women's eyes—'especially the tempting ones.' David Keyes on how they're defending the outrage.

“I love the looks of you, the lure of you
The sweet of you, and the pure of you
The eyes, the arms, and the mouth of you
The east, west, north, and the south of you”

—Cole Porter

It’s a safe bet that Sheikh Motlab al Nabet, spokesman of Saudi Arabia’s religious police, isn’t a fan of Cole Porter. “The lure of you” is precisely why Nabet announced yesterday that the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice will cover any women’s eyes that are deemed “tempting.” “The men of the committee will interfere to force women to cover their eyes, especially the tempting ones” he said. “[We] have the right to do so.”

What are “tempting” eyes? One Saudi journalist mused on condition of anonymity that they are “uncovered eyes with a nice shape and makeup. Or even without makeup, if they are beautiful, the woman will be in trouble.” The Orwellian-named committee did not provide a definition of tempting, but if they happen to rely on Merriam-Webster, then it means “having an appeal.” What is an appeal? According to the dictionary, it is “arousing a sympathetic response.” And what is sympathetic?  “Showing empathy,” according to Merriam-Webster.

So there you have it. To allow a women’s eyes to capture the unfettered glory of the world, one must empathize with her very existence. But the religious policemassively funded by King Abdullahcannot do this. “It’s so stupid,” the Saudi journalist tells me. “I don’t know what to say. They have to stop this. Many people will oppose this in the country. They won’t be silent.”

“I don’t know what to say.They have to stop this. Many people will oppose this in the country. They won’t be silent.”

Perhaps they won’t be, but the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has some of the most powerful backers in the country. Prince Naif, recently appointed heir to the throne, has said: “The committee is supported by all sides ... It should be supported because it is a pillar from Islam. If you are a Muslim, you should support the committee.” No surprise, then, that King Abdullah awarded this draconian body an additional 200 million riyals (about $53 million) in March.

How should America respond to this latest affront to Saudi women? Perhaps it can sponsor a contest of the most tempting eyes in Saudi Arabia. Women will send in pictures of their most tempting look and the winner will get to accompany President Obama during his next meeting with the Saudi dictator.

If Congress reconsidered the recent $60 billion U.S.-Saudi arms deal, the religious police might quickly find it “tempting” to stop treating women as property.