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23 February, 2004

The right to bare arms

Sharjah is hoping to increase tourism, predominantly with its shopping malls. There is also a "wide-ranging drive to dress Sharjah up and make it more attractive to visitors."

This is the same Sharjah that already forced its people to literally dress up and cover up in recent decency laws. Most of them are fair enough: the freedom not to have ones eyeballs fried by fat tourists bulging out of beachwear in public places can only be celebrated. Ditto their bare-chested menfolk in "very short shorts".

The ludicrous part of the decency laws is this:

A man and a woman who are not in a legally acceptable relationship should not, according to the booklet, be alone in public places, or in suspicious times or circumstances.

This means that a woman getting a lift with a male colleague is illegal. A man and woman holding a business meeting is illegal. A woman having her male cousin round for dinner is illegal.

And the coeducational American University of Sharjah where males and females merrily commingle with bare arms, naked shoulders and tight tops, should be struck down with a bolt of holy lightning.

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