Friday, February 12, 2010

A Rose by Another Name?

Roses at my neighborhood high-priced organic market were $1.24 each today.  A bargain, I suppose - but you had to commit to 24 roses at that price - $29.99.  In our generally depressed economy, I'm guessing no one will miss the extravagance that is an armful of roses at the door this Valentine's Day.  

Please don't.

Especially if you live in Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia, anything red or heart shaped or rose-related is against the law this week.  A red rose, if you can score one in the underground network of risk-taking florists, is $8.  For one rose.  But the truth is, you probably can't get one.  Not a pair of red socks or boxers with hearts on them either.  Or candy hearts with catchy messages like:  BE MINE or THE ONE or YOU'RE HOT stamped on them.   The religious police in Saudi Arabia - the Mutawwa - have been ordering anything red or heart-shaped off retailer's shelves for the last couple of weeks.

Valentine's Day is against the law in Saudi Arabia...
which is a country ruled by a king...
who adheres to the constitution...
which is the Qur'an...
the holy book of Islam.

Saudi Arabia, you might say, is a Muslim nation. 

And because Valentine's Day has a vaguely defined connection to one of three canonized saints from the Catholic tradition - well, you can probably see the problem.  It's just not cool to give a Christian saint a nod of honor, even if it is the patron saint of love.

So...don't go looking for chocolates in heart shaped boxes in Saudi Arabia.

Or a movie theater.
Or a live music venue.
Or men and women chatting in public.
Or women driving cars. Or riding bicycles. Or showing their knees.

None of that is allowed either.

Really - for the love of roses - who's in favor of a church state? 


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