Op-Ed Columnist - Loosey-Goosey Saudi - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - Loosey-Goosey Saudi - NYTimes.com
Maureen Dowd

Young Saudi women whom I interviewed said that the popular king has relaxed the grip of the bullying mutawa, the bearded religious police officers who patrol the streets ready to throw you in the clink at the first sign of fun or skin. Their low point came in 2002 when they notoriously stopped teenage girls without head scarves from fleeing a fire at a school in Mecca; 15 girls died. Two years ago, they arrested an American woman living here while she was sitting in a Starbucks with her male business partner, even though she was in a curtained booth in the “family” section designated for men and women.
“It is not allowed for any woman to travel alone and sit with a strange man and talk and laugh and drink coffee together like they are married,” the religious police said.
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