The year was 1968 and King Faisal was not as tolerant of the misdeeds of the

The year was 1968 and king faisal was not as tolerant

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The year was 1968, and King Faisal was not as tolerant of the misdeeds of the young princes as had been his elder brother, Sa’ud. The mutawas felt they were in a position of power, for both they
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and Father knew that his uncle, the king, would be outraged if the contents of the slides became common knowledge. The fears of the mutawas were well known regarding the present course of modernization of our land. King Faisal constantly cautioned his brothers and cousins to control their children to avoid the wrath of the religious men upon the heads of the royal men who ruled. The king assured the religious elders that he was leading our country into needed modernization, not degenerate Westernization (the best, not the worst, of the West). The mutawas saw proof of the decadent West in the behavior of the royals. Ali’s slide collection did nothing to put their minds at ease about the whispered decadence of the Royal Family. We heard the mutawas argue long into the night over an appropriate punishment for the son of a prince. Ali was lucky to be a member of the family of Al Sa’uds. The mutawas knew that unless the king gave his approval, no royal prince would be charged in the country’s court system. Rarely, if ever, did such an event occur. But if Ali were a member of a common Saudi family or a member of the foreign community, he would have been ordered to serve a long prison sentence. Our family was all too familiar with the sad story of the brother of one of our Filipino drivers. Four years ago, the brother, who worked for an Italian construction firm in Riyadh, had been arrested for possessing a pornographic film. The poor man was now serving a seven-year prison sentence. Not only was he languishing in prison, but he was ordered to endure ten lashes every Friday. Our driver, who visited his brother every Saturday, wept as he told Ali that every time he saw his poor brother, the man was black from his neck to his toes from the lashings of the previous day. He feared his brother would not live out the coming year. Unfortunately for Ali, his guilt was established without a doubt—his name was boldly printed on every forbidden item. In the end, a compromise of sorts was made: Father gave a huge sum of money to the mosque, and Ali had to be present for prayers five times each day to appease the men of God, along with God himself. The mutawas knew that few of the younger royal princes bothered to go to prayer at all, and that such a punishment would be especially irksome to Ali. He was told he would have to show his face to the head mutawa in our mosque at every prayer for the next twelve months. His only excuse would be if he were out of the city. Since Ali generally slept until nine o’clock, he frowned at the mere thought of the sun-up prayer. In addition, he had to write one thousand times on a legal pad: “God is great, and I have displeased him by running after the corrupt and immoral ways of the Godless West.” As a final condition, Ali was told he would have to reveal the name of the person who had supplied him with the slides and magazines. As it was, Ali had slipped in the magazines
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