Friday, June 1, 2007

Modern times, Islamic rules in Saudi Arabia

by Betsy Hiel, from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In the coastal city of Jeddah, religious rules permeate every aspect of life, from dress to speech to architecture. Coffee shops and restaurants are all segregated, with a "singles" section -- meaning single men -- and a "family" section for women alone or with male relatives. Foreign women are required to wear abayas but not veils, or hijabs. Yet a prudent visitor wears one around the neck, as a scarf, in case the religious police scream or she wearies of the gaping stares of locals ... On the highway to Mecca, the pavement splits and signs in English and Arabic declare "Muslims only." Another sign points back to Jeddah with the message, "Obligatory for non-Muslims."

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