Happy New Year everyone!

Yesterday evening I heard about an incident a family friend had gone through very recently. She was home alone and she happened to live next door to a mosque. During prayer time some thieves broke into the house so she locked herself into the bathroom and started screaming out the window. She screamed and yelled “ya umah”, which funnily enough means mommy. Anyway the thieves cleaned out the house and no one stopped by to see if the hysterical woman screaming out a window needed help.

Later her enraged husband and brother went to the imam of the mosque and asked him why they didn’t stop prayer and come to her rescue. And the imam replied that she wasn’t clear about what was wrong so he assumed that her husband was beating her up and didn’t want to intervene!

Back in 2004 we had an incident at my house when I thought that a car had run over my son in the front yard. I too screamed and yelled as I ran towards him. Alhamdlil Allah he was fine. And some Saudi man outside heard me and came running and knocked on our door to see if he could do anything. I didn’t word out anything specific either in my hysteria but still a man outside wanted to help even if it might mean interrupting an abusive husband.

I’m not sure why I wrote this as a New Year post but it’s what I’ve been thinking about all day and had to get it out there.


Filed under Culture

15 responses to “Happy New Year everyone!

  1. Happy New year Eman. As for your incident, I remember when I was a young, two guys in our neighbor had a fight and we heard the mom screaming a lot as well the sisters. Then when my dad went to talk with them, they got very angry and ask my dad to never interfere again.
    But as for the woman case, the Imam should Interrupt his prayer to help the woman. as far I remember when I was learning islamic studies, Muslim must interrupt their prayer in case of emergency or the the rescuing for helping someone from danger

  2. woow, he thought she was beating by her husband and didn’t want to intervene !!! ”sigh ”

    anyway, Happy New Year 🙂

  3. I have certainly been with family in Morocco when we sat through the escalation of a domestic dispute. The modus operandi there seems to be not to interfere unless it is “too much” ie there is some threshold after which it is okay to intervene in a “private matter”.

    The “private matter” philosophy prevailed here too until about the 70’s when domestic violence became a public matter (thanks to feminism) and reforms happened. Both social workers and police were frustrated with women who would lay charges and then drop them, or not lay them for fear of being abused more (a legitimate concern, as behaviour would improve immediately after police intervention and then get worse when the threat was off). The solution was that the police do the charging, if they are called or happen on domestic abuse.

    An American student patient of mine (a patient because of her husband’s newly discovered infidelity–he was either Canadian or American, I forget) saw her husband on the street with the “other woman” after he said it was all over. She kicked him, and hit the woman, and a passing police officer charged her. She had to go through court and hire a lawyer even though both the husband and the girlfriend refused to press charges, and testified for her.

    Police and police women are specially trained to handle domestic violence problems. Obviously it still happens but the attitudes and what is done about it when it is known has changed dramatically. All of this presumes that certain attitudes prevail within the law and the policing policies.

    Attitudes shift within immigrant communities the longer they are established in Canada.

    Murtadha raised good points about leaving prayer in such a situation, and about the risks to the person who tries to intervene.

    It seems there need to be a paradigm shift about domestic violence in Saudi.

    The other issue that came to mind as I was reading is that of the concern about men coming to the aid of women who are alone as was discussed by myself and some others on John Burgess’ blog, Crossroads Arabia, in relation to women driving and having a car break down; it starts below with an incident that happened to me:


  4. Honestly, that would be something would take a long time to leave my mind too. The imam is suppose to be able to lead the community and he clearly did not do that in this instance.

    This also brings to mind that in the U.S. you cannot scream help anymore because no will assist you out of fear of being hurt. So, now, you’re suppose to say fire. I wonder if the imam would have done something if she screamed fire instead.


  5. Emanuele

    …life is changed, back when I was a child was different, if somebody was asking for help people were going to do something instead of now. I remember few weeks ago when a little girl felt down from her bicycle in a parking. She was trying to leave the bike from herself and get up. If was few years ago for sure I would help her, but today?…well, I stayed about 10 meters and asked her if she needed help (she said was fine) because I was so afraid of going there to help her due to society of today (especially in USA), people if they see a little girl down and a man close they suddenly think bad, like you are doing a kind of abuse. I though by myself “if that little girl strat screaming people would call the police eventhough I was doing nothing bad but I was helping her, and for me as a Non US-Citizen is over” for some, this might sound crazy, but hey…this is what’s happening these days. =( Isn’t sad?
    For these, apparently, small things they can destroy your life. I just wanted to tell a little story too, and I hope that you got my point eventhough is hard to explain. =)
    I wish a happy new year to you Dear. Eman and to all KSA.

    With best regards,

  6. Emanuele–thanks for sharing your experience. It is sad, but prudent only to intervene in extreme situations. I have seen nice people try to compliment children only to have the well street-proofed child respond back with a stern “I don’t talk to strangers” and walk off. Given that the setting was a very safe one it was overkill, but given the hype about child abduction, and the realistic damages when it does occur, sadly necessary on the part of the street-proofing parents.

  7. Ahmer

    Simply everyone especially expats are afraid of helping in such situation because they could be then charged for entering in house with some nasty intention who will take pain of explaining some thing to police?

  8. It makes you wonder overall what is this world and the people in it are coming too? Good post to start off 2010 with questions and reflections.

  9. test try for Eman – will the 4th be lucky?

  10. Eman–off topic: I would be interested in your comments on a post I just did on the Saudi husband of the Western wife living in Saudi, both their reality and how they are represented in the blogosphere.


    And that of your readers too. The subtitle is “A Great Silence”

  11. …Let me talk to ur husband. I’ll even throw in some money to get you guys to leave KSA and move here next to a church. Where all your crys for help wil be heard by your true saviours the Cops!

  12. Sona Jahan

    So sad to hear about this. It really highlights what’s wrong in the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s