The Only Country In The World Where Breakfast Is A Crime
Saudi authorities have arrested an Egyptian hotel worker, after he was caught on film sharing a morning meal with his female colleague. The Only Country In The World Where Breakfast Is A Crime
In the 30 second video clip, which authorities in the religious, oil-rich kingdom have branded “offensive“, his fully-veiled, unnamed coworker waves at the camera and appears to feed the man a potato chip.
Now not only is the Egyptian foreign-worker facing legal sanctions and deportation, the hotel owner has been dragged in for questioning by the Saudi labor ministry.
Jeddah Breakfast Bandit Embarrasses Crown Prince
Strict laws governing the segregation of the sexes in Saudi workplaces, mean that both could face serious legal consequences for their shared meal.
But the international attention that the case of the Jeddah Breakfast Bandit has attracted, may prove embarrassing to Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The 33-year-old Crown Prince has been at pains to paint himself as a moderniser since assuming the title in 2017. Women have recently been given the right to drive in the Kingdom for the first time, and laws governing some mixed-sex socializing have been liberalized.
The Kingdom’s first public cinema in 35 years even opened in April, with a private invite-only gala screening of Black Panther.
Racism Rules Labor Laws In The Desert Kingdom
But popcorn and blockbusters cannot disguise the fact, that Saudi Arabia remains notorious for it’s restrictive laws governing the lives of women and its harsh treatment of foreign workers.
Many are questioning how a shared meal at your desk with a colleague is worthy of arrest, while hammering heated nails into the hands of your foreign maid is met with official disbelief and a slap on the wrist.
For foreign workers like the Egyptian at the center of this mixed-sex breakfast scandal, the Saudi legal system can prove opaque and arbitrary.
Beheaded While Unaware He Was Sentenced To Death
Human Rights Watch found cases of Indian workers in Saudi prison, unaware that they had been convicted of capital crimes and were on death row.
Sentences for foreign nationals are often harsh in the Kingdom. The world was horrified in 2013 when Saudi authorities beheaded 24-year-old Sri Lankan domestic worker, Rizana Nafeek, in face of global appeals for clemency.
Miss Nafeek had been convicted of murdering her employers’ four-month old baby, but no postmortem was ever carried out on the infant to determine cause of death and the Sri Lankan national told lawyers that her initial confession had been made under duress, without access to a translator.
At least 45 foreign domestic workers are currently on death row in Saudi prisons, with some accused of crimes such as witchcraft and adultery.
Slavery Was Outlawed in 1962, But Slave-Like Conditions Continue
While foreigners in Saudi Arabia face tough justice, there are many recorded instances in which Saudi nationals have been able to abuse foreign workers with impunity.
The crime of sharing your breakfast may seem insignificant to outsiders, but for those within the kingdom it reveals the true priorities of those who have power in Saudi Arabia.
The vulnerability of foreign domestic workers to rape and sexual abuse at the hands of male employers has been well documented, in a country where reporting the crime carries the risk of being sentenced to a brutal lashing for the supposed crime of adultery.
Saudi women are still forbidden from carrying out many basic activities without the presence of a male guardian, supposedly to protect female honor, but behind closed doors these same male guardians do not extend much protection to their female maids.
In 2011 Nepal even banned its female citizens under the age of 30 from working in the Gulf States, because reports of rape were so widespread among foreign workers returning from Saudi and its gulf neighbors.
If Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is serious about reforming Saudi Arabia’s global image, then he may soon find out that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
The Only Country In The World Where Breakfast Is A Crime But It’s A-OK To Rape Your Maid