She Fought the “Law” — and She May Win

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The young couple was enjoying an afternoon at the local amusement park when their day was suddenly blighted by the arrival of a uniformed government functionary.

The police officer demanded identification from the couple. This caused the young man to suffer an apparent panic attack. The woman, however, erupted in fury, beating the policeman so severely that he had to be hospitalized.

Amazing as it may seem, the woman was not arrested and thrown in a cell. She has yet to be formally charged. If she is charged with, and convicted of, assault on a public official, the punishment could be a lengthy prison term and severe corporal punishment.

Be that as it may, the woman didn’t face the kind of summary “street justice” by way of Taser, club, pepper spray, or firearm that almost certainly would have been inflicted on her had she laid an unhallowed hand on a sanctified police personage here in the United States.

The episode described above took place in Saudi Arabia. The couple was accosted by a member of the Hai’a, aka the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” the body that enforces the Kingdom’s laws governing the social behavior of unmarried men and women.

The woman who beat up the Virtue Cop has become something of a folk heroine.

“To see resistance from a woman means a lot,” comments Saudi women’s rights activist Wajiha Al-Huwaidar. “People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.”

Perhaps someday that commendably defiant attitude will catch on here in the purported Land of the Free, where the act of pulling one’s hand away from one of the state’s armed enforcers can be prosecuted as felonious “assault.”

(My thanks to LRC reader “Liberranter” for the tip.)

11:32 pm on May 18, 2010