Saudi Morality Police See Red Over Valentine Roses

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s morality police are on the scent of illicit red roses as part of a clampdown on would-be St Valentine’s lovers in the strict Muslim kingdom. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious vigilantes, have banned shops from selling any red flowers in the run-up to February 14.

Florists say the move is part of an annual campaign by the committee — whose members are known as "mutawwaeen" or volunteers — to prevent Saudis marking a festival they believe flouts their austere doctrine of "Wahhabi" Islam. "They pass by two or three times a day to check we don’t have any red flowers," said a Pakistani florist in Riyadh’s smart Sulaimaniya district. "Look, no red. I’ve taken them all out," he said pointing to a dazzling floral collection covering every color of the rainbow except one.

Source [Reuters]

I know I should not be surprised by any news coming out of Saudi Arabia, but this one is just too much. I mean come on, red roses! This is what I call energy wasted!

Categorized as Tidbits

By Natasha Tynes

I’m a Jordanian-American journalist, writer, and media development professional based in Washington, DC.


  1. Why do Saudi’s need to buy red roses in the first place? Do they know what real love is about?

  2. Hehehe,more first hand suffering there. God, il ta’7alof Natasha, you won’t even be able to imagine it! I used to wear red glasses at the time, and I wore them every day ya3ni, mish bas on special occassions, so when I wore them on Valentine’s Day when I was in highschool, they sent me home! They’re crazy Natasha, completely and utterly crazy. My neighbor was driving around wearing a red shirt on valenties day, he spent valentine’s night in jail!
    these mataw3a guys are my worst nightmare.

  3. I look at the bright side: at least I wouldn’t have to buy roses! Seriously, it does a seem a tad excessive.
    By the way, I live in San Francisco. I’ve been telling my friends about this column.

  4. Alan,
    That’s a nice way of looking at the situation;-) I’m very flattered that you are telling your friends about this humble blog.
    Hope to see more of you around here;-)

  5. I think this blog will gain more popularity soon on the west coast of the US. LA, San Fran, Seattle. We need some from Oregon to fill the gap. This is a good site to connect with home; I believe.

  6. I really do not know what to say about this one. On one hand, I can understand why these morality police would not want the holiday celebrated in a strict myslim country: Valentine’s Day refers to a Saint. Look up the history. Its actually very interesting. But on the other hand, many American’s do not even know the background of the holiday and just look at it as the holiday of love. I really dont think the police enforce their rules because they are against love, i think its what the history of the holiday represents.Im not totaly sure. What do u guys think?

  7. Well, Linda, we’re talking about a country that considers anything slightly Western an act of Kufr.
    Every year, the Saudi government decorates the streets for Eid, but a few years ago when Eid and Christmas happened to be very close to each other, they didn’t decorate the streets so that people don’t think they’re celebrating Christmas.
    Such is their logic.

  8. Finally something good out of that country. I hate paying up to 10X the normal price for roses just because it’s Valentine’s Day. Ban chocolates and teddy bears too and I’ll move there!

  9. I personally dont like valentines day. why cant everyday be valentines day. why do we need one day out of the year to express how much we love our loved ones. why cant it be every day?
    a professor of mine has the same idea regarding christmas. why is that only during christmas we express peace on earth and good will toward men? his idea: the entire year should be life the holiday season, and then, we have only one day out of the year to beat up our neighbors.

  10. That means linda, we should lie every day, not only on April 1st. Isn’t this what we do everyday anyways ?

  11. This is an excellent move. Finally someone is saying “hey, this day is part of western culture which conflicts with our own”. It may seem harsh, though it feels more like a splash of cold water to wake up our societies to the realisation that not everything the western cultures do we have to mimic; at least not for the sake of appearing “civilized” and “modern”

  12. nas: you can’t be serious about that, i would have hoped that our culture and traditions are a bit more resiliant than to have us feel threatened by a few red roses and a highly commercialised holiday.
    If you want to preserve our culture in the face of Valentines day, then we provide a more attractive alternative, don’t send in the police to ban red roses! thats just pathetic.

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