Beware Iran’s Fashion Police

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tehran’s police are operating a three-stage process in implementing the new wave of a crackdown on dress deemed to be un-Islamic, which started with some intensity on July 23.

First, women are given a verbal warning on the street. If the problem is not resolved there, they are taken to the police station for “guidance” and to sign a vow not to repeat the offence. Should this be unsuccessful, their case is handed to the judiciary. Arrested women [are taken] to a “center for combating vice”.

“Our method is through guidance and via words,” according to a female Iranian police officer, who by law was not allowed to give her name. “We do not face an instance that prompts us to be physical. We do not have any bats or sprays. In the toughest instances we may grab her hand and ‘guide’ her to the minibus,” she said.

One young passerby [rounded] on the police for devoting such resources to moral crackdowns rather than other social problems as a police minibus filled with “badly veiled” women sped away. “Shame on you; look what you’ve done! The people’s problem is not this! Go fix your traffic situation. People are stuck in traffic for hours; go fix other real problems,” she shrieks.

There was already considerable controversy inside Iran when the first stage of the “plan to increase security in society” was launched in April.

Many conservatives have applauded the drive, but moderates have publicly questioned whether Iran would be better off tackling poverty and crime rather than slack dressing.

Just before the new crackdown started, popular television host Farzad Hasani grilled Tehran’s police chief Ahmad Reza Radan about the drive on his talk show, accusing the police of “not differentiating between people and thugs.”

And old woman in Vanak Square echoed the sentiment, “Our youth have no peace of mind. They are afraid to go out, they are afraid to go out, they are afraid that if they go out they will be taken to the police. Aren’t they saying that there is freedom?”

I also understand that there has been a crackdown on men who have "un-Islamic" haircuts. I guess mullets are out of the question.

The Jordan Times, August 16, 2007

Rush Hour

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Plans are underway to transfer the responsibility of handling Amman's transportation from the Public Transport Regulatory Commission (PTRC) over to the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM). This doesn't appear to be a voluntary action by the PTRC, so they're a bit pissed about it.

According to the Jordan Times,
A government plan to transfer powers of regulating the public transportation sector in the capital to Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) drew fire from the Public Transport Regulatory Commission (PTRC).

The commission, which is the government's are currently in charge of the sector nationwide, was responding to remarks by Transport Minister Saud Nseirat, who said a draft law is in the making to put GAM in charge of regulating transportation in the capital, which is home for 280 public buses and 10,000 taxis at least.

The law, which is still under study by transportation experts, is expected to be finalized within the few coming weeks and go immediately into effect.

PTRC Director General Hashem Masaid described the plan as "hasty" and called on the government to reconsider, claiming GAM's takeover of responsibility over the sector is not likely to render better services, citing the municipality's inexperience.

The ministry said in response that there is no problem in that regard, because the municipality "can recruit experts" to run the transportation show, which includes, for example, setting specifications and standards of vehicles, conducting related studies, regulating the transportation routes and supervising companies working in the sector.

Nseirat added that by transferring regulatory authorities to GAM, the country follows in the footsteps of advanced nations, where transportation falls under the jurisdiction of municipalities.

The minister stopped short of accusing PTRC of any failure to do its job, but the commission's top man acknowledged "the situation is not perfect and there are complaints by citizens about the services."

My take on the situation is to side with the GAM on this one. The GAM seems serious about improving the city, making some surprising (and needed) changes over the past six months. I would like to see them have a go at our current city-wide traffic disaster.

The PTRC has been doing a sucky job and even though the GAM stopped short of accusing them of incompetence, I'll be glad to follow through with it. I have no doubt that hundreds of thousands of drivers in Amman will join me in that accusation.

I have yet to see the "experience" that the PTRC claims to have, but if they can't do the job, I say give someone else a shot.

Source: The Jordan Times, August 16, 2007


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Aside from the Black Eyed Peas' song, My Humps, my most loathed recent song is Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne. It's just so annoyingly bubblegum pop in the most sickly juvenile way.

But even worse than the English version is the German version. It's just...wrong. If I ever encounter someone with the German version set as their mobile phone ring tone, we may have to throw down.

Anniversaries: What's Wrong With This Picture?

Monday, August 20, 2007

I was noticing the other day that once a couple reaches the 20th anniversary, traditional gifts start to become pretty lavish. First it's china, followed by silver (25th), pearls (30th) and other precious stones. Eventually by the 50th anniversary, it's gold. The 60th is diamond and the 70th is platinum.

But notice that things start to go downhill around 80 years of marriage. Oak, that's what you get. You go straight from gems and precious metals to just plain wood. How's that for a hint that everything is spiraling downhill.

And the real kick in the pants is the 90th anniversary. Ancient lovers can finally give the gift of granite. I guess whoever made the list is assuming that you're now old enough to keel over and die and you'll most likely need a really nice tombstone.

Made of granite.

Lost in Translation (In England)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

When I arrived in Heathrow a couple days ago, I collected my bags and marched over to the Information Desk to inquire about a buses.

ME: I need to find the express bus to Gatwick. Where might that be?

LIMEY AT THE COUNTER (with slight distain): What your asking for is a coach.

ME: Whatever...I guess.

LIMEY AT THE COUNTER: Follow that ramp down to the Central Bus Station.

ME (with a cross look on my face): That's what I said...a bus!

Goodbye, Chaps

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'll be heading to jolly ol' England for a couple of days. That means that you'll be hearing from me about as much as normal, which is hardly at all. Cheerio.

Forced Morality

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Nigerian convert to Islam was jailed in Saudi Arabia after he helped a sick 63-year-old woman and was then accused by religious police of immoral behavior, a newspaper reported on Monday. Ibrahim Mohammad Lawal, a student of Islamic studies in Riyadh, took the woman, who is his neighbor, to the hospital after learning that she needed medical attention, Arab News said. After the woman returned home he went to check on her health and found three other women related to her there. Then up to five men identifying themselves as members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrived and took him and the three women visitors into custody, accusing him of being alone with his neighbor. He was later taken to prison, the paper said without elaborating on what happened to the three women. Lawal's help for his neighbor "has landed him 50 days and counting behind bars," Arab News said.

Help the maskeen, be arrested. Prevent someone from dying, go to jail.

While those are general statements, I'm hearing more and more about similar situations where a man or woman is arrested by the religious police because of an act of charity for someone of the opposite gender. In other words, it's better to let someone suffer or die as long as you continue to appear righteous. Which do you think God is more concerned about: true charity or religious facade?

But the thing that I really can't wrap my mind around is the concept of forced morality. What is the purpose of creating a religious police system designed to strong arm people into doing something against their nature? After all, many are only following the rules because they are forced to, and not because they want to. Wouldn't God be more appreciative of those who want to obey him? And since God is all knowing, he is surely aware of the condition of one's heart. How is it then that we are so preoccupied with creating a righteous outward show rather than a contrite inward attitude?

So what is the purpose of forcing someone to do what is religiously required? If I am forced to fast during Ramadan even though I don't want to, I'm sure my forced fasting isn't going to amount to religious "points" because my heart isn't in the right place. And I use this as an example because I see similar situations all day every day: people following the letter of the law, not because they desire to, but because they don't want to a) appear unrighteous b) get in trouble by the zealots c) dishonor their family.

I'm not sure I see the point. Perhaps someone could educate me?

Source: The Jordan Times, August 7, 2007

A Couple Questions

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Why is it that the Fastlink in Shmesani employs a number system which allows it to operate efficiently while the Fastlink kiosk in Safeway allows people to shove their way in "line", resulting in utter pandemonium?

Why is it that 90% of the "seedless" grapes in Jordan contain seeds? Do the supermarkets actually know what seedless means?

Where's Our Ultimatum?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Ultimatum, a movie with a 94% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is playing in the States, but Jordan cinemas are featuring the moldy oldy, Transformers, and the ultra-blockbuster, Dead Silence.

Come on, Jordan cinemas! How can you not feature this movie the instant it is available for release? We want Bourne!

UPDATE: It appears that Universal Pictures released the film in the U.S. on August 3rd, but it won't be released to the UK and Ireland until the 16th. I'm assuming that's when it will finally hit theaters here. Bah.

Lost in Translation

Friday, August 03, 2007

I was reviewing the "Now Playing" movies on Maktoob when I noticed that the English movie descriptions were nicely written, but the Arabic movie descriptions had a little trouble in translation.

KarKar: Hinawi, father of Karker owns largest supermarket for spare parts, but very Stingy, Karker being courted him to attend the ceremony married, but Karker have shocked to electric causing a flaw in his behavior are placed in a psychiatric hospital and after die Hinnawi calls from one of his relatives that marriage of a daughter of Karkar and the subsequent events in a comedy.

Omar w Salma: Love story between young man, which is linked to many Romantic relationships, but always maintained dosnt be success because of love of change, by meet with Salma everythings, peaceful change of the course of his life and subsequent events.

Taymoor w Shafikha: Taymoor taught at the Police College and have between him and Shafika strong love relationship, and subsequent events and works in Taymoor escorts for prominent figures, at the same time she get a doctorate Shafiqah and designated Minister for the Environment.

Thoughts on Dubai

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Site Blocked
I just returned from my first trip to the Emirates, where I spent some time in Dubai and Sharjah. Here are my personal notes.
  • Flickr is blocked for no clear reason. Bah.
  • Everything is pretty clean and tidy.
  • People know how to drive properly.
  • It's hot.
  • Everything is air conditioned.
  • The food isn't that great.
  • Everything, and I mean everything, is available there.
  • It's stinkin' hot.
  • You can get all the hot water you need from the tap. Good luck getting cold water, though.
  • The current airport isn't well designed for the amount of traffic that it receives.
  • The government does a good job planning for the future.
  • All those push-the-envelope buildings are pretty hip.
  • It's clearly a cultural melting pot.
  • Did I mention that it is hot?