U.S. Woman Arrested For Sitting With A Male Co-Worker At Starbucks in Saudi Arabia

A U.S. businesswoman was arrested by Saudi Arabia’s religious police for sitting with a male co-worker at Starbucks, says CBS news.

She sat with a male colleague in the Starbucks’ family area, the only place women are allowed to sit with men.

“Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked ‘Why are you here together?’ I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin,” she told the Times.

Following her arrest and interrogation, the woman was hauled before a judge.

“He said ‘You are sinful and you are going to burn in hell.’ I told him I was sorry. I was very submissive. I had given up. I felt hopeless,” she told the Times.

Saudi Cops Grab U.S. Woman In Starbucks
[CBS News] (Thanks, J!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Hanke says:

    When in other countries, you should follow their laws, just as you would expect their residents to do when visiting us.

  2. brew400 says:

    so starbucks is evil…

  3. stre says:

    I don’t get it. If they were in “the only place women were allowed to sit with men” then why was there a problem with a woman sitting with man?

  4. dezeinstein says:

    She was sentenced to drink only Starbucks coffee for a year.

    This is one bass-ackwards country.

  5. GothamGal says:

    First a woman being drugged and raped, then sick cows being pushed around by forklifts, now this? I’m about to slit my wrists today. Thanks Consumerist!

  6. JustAGuy2 says:


    Because they aren’t related. The family area allows husbands to sit with wives.

  7. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Ladies-and-gentlemen… I present to you our biggest ally in the middle east! Too bad we are too dependent on their oil to ever stand up for human rights.

  8. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    And a vote for Mike “American Ayatollah” Huckabee is different from this how?

  9. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be doing business with the Saudis.

  10. Meat_Shield says:

    @Hanke: As much as my outrage is bubbling up over what happened, I do have to concede your point – she was in a foreign country, with its own laws. Just as we expect foreigners to follow our laws, we have to do the same. No matter how arbitrary and asinine the laws may seem – ours may be just as asinine, especially lately with some of the draconian security laws put in place after 9/11

  11. Whitey Fisk says:

    They were wearing dresses?

  12. djhopscotch says:

    @suburbancowboy: In a perfect world we wouldn’t be in starbucks.

  13. boandmichele says:

    @Hanke: does this include religious persecution?

  14. B says:

    @stre: It was a man who wasn’t her husband or a family member.

  15. Anonymous says:


    hmm, I don’t think that applies to all situations. You have to look at it with some perspective. Saying that is kinda like saying… if you went to Germany back in the day you should just rat out Jews to have killed… since it was the law there…

    You can’t just blindly follow government with it is obviously a bigger human rights issue. Also, it is completely wrong to inforce your religious beliefs on another… try to tell them that, I know… but that doesn’t mean you can’t question it yourself.

  16. picardia says:

    Yeah, you should obey foreign laws, but OTOH, if a tourist from another country here did something culturally “off” and technically illegal (let’s say, smoking in a public building), I’d expect a cop to explain it to them and give them a chance to knock it off, not arrest them and haul them into court.

    And yeah, the whole idea that U.S. policy in the Middle East has jack to do with our ideology is completely blown by the fact that we cozy up to a place as vile as Saudi Arabia.

  17. boandmichele says:

    @Elviswasntmyhero: his skin is lighter in color?

  18. IrisMR says:

    Stupid backwater countries with their retarded prehistoric sexist religious laws.

  19. stre says:

    @B, @JustAGuy2: got it, thanks

  20. smitty1123 says:

    @Elviswasntmyhero: Once is a participatory act in a representative republic, one is a crime based on cultural values.

  21. savvy999 says:

    Islam doesn’t much care for the Starbucks logo either. That woman in the center should be covered up head to toe.

  22. akyiba says:

    Wonder what happened to the guy? Also hate it when the do stories like this and there’s a picture of women with a black jilbab and niqab or the guy with the sunnah beard dipped in henna.

  23. RogueSophist says:

    @Hanke: @Meat_Shield: We can at least make the attempt to distinguish between legal and moral relativism. That is, we can believe that a person should make every attempt to adhere to a foreign country’s laws and regulations, but still be outraged that they exist, and fight for change.

  24. Buran says:

    @Hanke: Read again: “She sat with a male colleague in the Starbucks’ family area, the only place women are allowed to sit with men. “

  25. glass says:


    my solution; stay out of saudi arabia.

    i know their professions probably brought them there. tough. no amount of money is worth that.

  26. Freedomboy says:

    So would this apply to Queen Elizabeth, Hillary or Maggie Thatcher?…., Would they be flogged?

    Questions an interested mind might have is all.

  27. Canerican says:

    Moral of the story: Don’t go to countries that have decided to medieval Islamic law. I actually agree that the lady needs to obey Saudi Arabia’s laws as see went there on her own.

    You see what we are fighting to keep out the USA and UK?

  28. Sidecutter says:

    @akyiba: Probably nothing. In pretty much every situation that involves violations of propriety like this, the woman is considered to be at fault. Even if she was beaten and raped by five men while walking down a street shopping for food.

  29. mobbo says:

    We should give that country lots of money… oh wait.

  30. Brad2723 says:

    My official comment would probably get me banned from the Consumerist, so all I can do is politely denounce their (Saudis’) treatment of women.

  31. harumph says:

    breaking news, saudi arabia is completely insane and we as a country are completely beholden to them.

  32. rlue says:

    @boandmichele: When in Rome…

  33. dapuddle says:

    There is a book about a Canadian who was imprisoned there , discusses the ex-pat underworld of drinking etc.

    Written by a guy named Williams Sampson. Bit slow, but an interesting read. Goto your fave book site and search his name. (or send me copious amounts of cash and I will send my copy)

    At the time I was reading it I was considering a really well paying job there. Forget that.

  34. arch05 says:

    @IrisMR: seconded

  35. RokMartian says:

    Yeah – Islam is such a “peaceful” religion, aint it?

  36. humphrmi says:

    Wow, let the flaming begin.

  37. WhaDa says:

    WHY IS THIS ON CONSUMERIST?????????????????????????????

  38. Superborty says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with this. Seems pretty sinful to me to drink a cup of coffee with a man in the family area. If only she had gone for the hot chocolate.

  39. EvilConservative says:

    @Freedomboy: Nothing would happen because like everywhere else they would be traveling with diplomatic immunity, and as a representative would be more mindful of cultural differences. These were private citizens.

    I think the culture is reprehensible, but going over there on business is at its heart a participatory, voluntary act, so be prepared. She should have been.

    I also find it reprehensible to cheapen the rights and freedoms we do have in this country by equating in any way our laws, no matter how much you may disagree with them, to such a situation. There are many more freedoms robbed of the average American family by their homeowners’ association or local school board than the Federal government. But then, those often tend to be policed by the left, so they must be OK…

  40. kimsama says:

    Wow, let the misogyny begin, more like it. Shameful that people think your sex should be a prosecutable crime. I’m guessing everyone who just shrugs and says “Well, it’s their law” is a male.

    melanie.dawn got it right. What’s the old saying about not standing up for other people’s rights until they come after you and nobody’s left to stand up for you?


  41. LeJerque says:

    @WhaDa: WHY ARE YOU ON CONSUMERIST???????????????????


  42. He says:

    The real disappointing part is that American businesses are happy to work within this twisted system.

  43. ClayS says:

    We do sometimes protest what we consider to be racist or misogynistic laws in countries around the world. When it comes to Saudi Arabia and other major oil producing nations, we walk on tiptoes around those issues lest their dictators cut production.

  44. krunk4ever says:

    After watching Persepolis, this doesn’t come as too surprising…

  45. Nelsormensch says:

    @kimsama: In the Kingdom, “standing up for other’s rights” gets you disappeared into prison (possibly forever), publicly tortured or publicly executed. If you were a high-profile foreigner, you’d probably just be deported after a horrifying incarceration and interrogation.

    Only the Saudis can fix their country. The best we can do if refuse to have dealings with them, and until the oil runs out, that isn’t very likely.

  46. FMulder says:

    @RokMartian: This isn’t about Islam — it is about Saudi Arabia. In almost all other Islamic-majority countries this would NOT be an issue at all. Try to consider a distinction between culture and religion, and how countries can be different, even if they have the same religion as dominating presence.

    Hmm, like countries that have Christianity as a dominating religion can be VERY different in the status, policies, situation, values, etc. of and towards women, and many other issues.

    I know it is difficult when you don’t have solid knowledge, but try to consider the potential for distinction? Sometimes pretending to be intelligent, actually helps you move along the path towards intelligence….habit you know, habit!

  47. enm4r says:

    I’m pretty sure this is a clearcut case of “When in Rome…”

    Having travelled/lived abroad for years, and having had experience with actually having actually had diplomatic immunity, I can say that as a private citizen, it is her responsibility to abibe buy the customs of the host country. Because you find it ridiculous (and I do) doesn’t mean she can simply flaunt local laws without consequences.

  48. matsayz says:

    @Whitey Fisk: its not a dress, its a Thawb [en.wikipedia.org] lets not be ignorant. its the culutral method of dress. actually very nice when its hot as hell. get a nice breeze goin if ya know what i mean

  49. Derp says:

    @noasalira: It IS about Islam, they didn’t tell her she was going to hell because Jesus said so.

  50. Shadowman615 says:

    Wow, if you follow the link to the cbs-page article, there are some insanely stupid comments over there. Just when I thought the Internet couldn’t get any dumber, it turns over a new leaf.

  51. Steel_Pelican says:

    As a country, we need to not send one more penny to the Saudis until they abolish these bullshit superstition laws. We need to deport their ambassadors, withdraw any military protection, and suspend all business transactions until they join the rest of us in the 19th century.

    For the “when in Rome” commenters:

    As foreigners traveling abroad, we should do our best to uphold the laws of the country we visit, within reason. However, absurd laws like Saudi Arabia’s should not be tolerated by any sane, reasonable person anywhere in the world. Establishment doesn’t make it right. There’s a difference between respecting custom & sovereignty, and supporting tyranny and oppression. It’s one thing to find Singapore’s ban on chewing gum ridiculous, but abide by it anyway. It’s another to uphold the wholesale rape of civil rights on behalf of idiotic superstition.

  52. Can-Car says:

    I really consider the women who live within that culture. I feel pity by them. Islam = benefit for the men.

  53. NoNamesLeft says:

    What? Where is a cheer chain when you need one?

  54. Adam Hyland says:

    @matsayz: That’s rich. If she was arrested for sitting in the wrong place in Starbucks, then the guys bothering her were wearing fucking dresses.

    I’ll be happy to sing Kumbaya around the fire with these people when they stop arresting English teachers who name their bears mohammed, killing dutch citizens, and burning buildings down over political cartoons.

    And I said “these people”. I feel free to think of Saudi Arabia today as we might have thought of the american south 50 years ago (or more recently). I don’t feel that we should have given credence to the south’s “peculiar institutions” then and we shouldn’t give any to the saudis now.

  55. iaintgoingthere says:

    Selling expensive coffee in Arab , LOL. What a nice way to get back at them.

  56. squidbrain says:

    Not news. This stuff has been going on for decades.

  57. Celeste says:

    To quote American Dad, from ‘Stan of Arabia’:
    It’s great if you’re from mars, but not if you’re from venus!
    If you wanna drive a car you’d better have a penis!
    So if you’ve got a vagina, a vulva, a clitoris and a labia… stay the hell away from Saudi Arabia!

  58. Imhotep says:

    Religion must be separated from law, but only always.

  59. akyiba says:

    @Celeste: Women can drive in Saudia Arabia.

  60. Anitra says:

    @Adam Hyland: One key difference – the American South is part of our own country. Saudi Arabia isn’t.

    I’ve known for years that I wouldn’t go to Saudi Arabia for all the money in the world, because I know I would fail to follow some obscure role-of-women law and get arrested for it. It’s not worth it.

  61. dapuddle says:

    They are few countries that are as religious as the good ol USA.

  62. howie_in_az says:

    @Steel_Pelican: But you’re in THEIR country, thusly you have to abide by THEIR laws, no matter how absurd they seem to you, a foreigner.

    The alternative is to simply not visit said country.

  63. ClayS says:

    There are probably none with as diverse a population as the USA either. And I’m proud that we are tolerant of our people’s religious, racial and cultural differences.

  64. ninjatales says:

    The tourism industry there must be booming!

  65. Adam Hyland says:

    @Anitra: Well, absolutely. I’m not suggesting we send the national guard in like it was Arkansas. I’m suggesting that people working there for western companies leave. I wouldn’t work there, unless it was for a ridiculous salary and I’m sure the woman in this story won’t go back to work there afterwards.

  66. BII says:

    I guess Saudi Arabia is pretty forward-thinking, I mean drinking Starbucks coffee *is* a crime.

  67. AndyAgent87 says:

    These people have been programmed to think this way from day one.

    Anytime a society puts that much focus on a religion, stuff like is bound to happen. Be it Islam, Catholicism, whatever.

    I think evil is the only way to describe it.

  68. Steel_Pelican says:

    @howie_in_az: My status as a foreigner does not supersede my morality. Americans living in Apartheid South Africa who “abided” by the forced relocation and segregation were party to the injustice.

    Saying “I was a foreigner” does not absolve you from moral culpability for supporting laws that are universally unjust. No government has the right to supplant the human rights of its subjects- these violations transcend national boundaries, therefore transcend citizenship. One doesn’t have to be a citizen of a country to protest transgressions of this magnitude.

    One could ask “what would you say to foreigners who flaunt US law?” If a Canadian national had obeyed the law and not let Blacks into White schools in the 40’s, he wouldn’t get a free pass just because he wasn’t a citizen- he’d still be morally culpable for supporting a despicable practice. The same is true for an Englishman living in Nazi Germany who sold out his Jewish neighbors. Saying “I was a foreigner, it wasn’t my place to disobey!” just doesn’t cut it when we’re talking about things that are this big.

    Oppression and subjugation is wrong, regardless of what country you live in, or what country you’re visiting.

  69. PermanentStar says:


    True, it does say where women are allowed to sit with men, but cultural precident (and law) dictates that it has to be her husband or other male relative (father or brother usually), because Islam restricts the contact of unmarried men and women unless they are blood relation. From what I’ve read, even parties (like to celebrate the birth of a child) are often celebrated in one home, but with the men in one area of the home, and the women in children in another, since Islamic law forbids even the contact of married women with men other than their husbands or family members.

    To us, it seems asinine, and sexist, but to Muslims it is part of a sacred order from God (although the feelings of women about the sacred law can vary from that of the men, but you will even find women who agree with – probabaly due to how they were raised). I’m not saying it’s right, but at the same time, you can’t really judge the morals and laws of another country by our standards – there are differnet cultural and religious backgrounds to be considered.

    Consider the good old US of A – for the longest time, we women conceded our rights to men, we accepted that we couldn’t vote, own property, etc, but, slowly, the times changed, people’s attitudes changed, then came changes to the laws – with an Islamic country, that doesn’t have the separation of church and state though, they don’t have the ability to change the law, because it’s the word of God, sacred law, and you can’t make ammendments to the word of God. Do I believe that they treat their women wrongly, yes, but changes in laws and regime, etc need to come from within a country. As ridiculous as the law may seem to us, if you are working in a nation that is vastly different from your own, and you’re aware that the laws are different, it is your responsibility to abide by them. someone said you should only abide by laws that are reasonable – but reasonable or not, I would think if you’re going to be in a foriegn country, you need to abide by all laws, if not to just save your own skin.

  70. glycolized says:

    Yeah, why is this on consumerist?

  71. AndyAgent87 says:

    @Steel_Pelican: Well put.

  72. Celeste says:

    @akyiba: Where’d you hear that? The last article I read on the subject, dated Feb 1 of 2008 says that the ban could be lifted this year. If they can drive now, that would make it a new privilege all of one week old.

    And relax. It’s lyrics from a song from a cartoon.

  73. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …they didn’t tell her she was going to hell because Jesus said so.

    @Derp: So the next time someone says that to me I should just assume that Christianity is a horrible, bigoted religion?

  74. forgottenpassword says:

    Thank god she wasnt caught singing a tune to herself…. she could have been stoned in the public square!

    I do agree with the “when in rome” comment, but how is one to know all the laws of a foreign country (or even their own country?)? I do agree with the commentor who said that explaining the law to the person & giving a warning is a more reasonable thing for a cop to do. But even our own cops sometimes have a problem with that. [www.youtube.com]

  75. Adam Hyland says:
  76. El_Guapo says:

    For those who haven’t read William Sampson’s tale, here it is:


    Fast warning: The site is filled with right wing douchbaggery, but the story was posted, so there you go.

  77. AnnieGetYourFun says:

    @Meat_Shield: Dude, she _was_ following the law. She was in the family section. That’s, you know, where women are allowed to sit.

  78. dreamsneverend says:

    If this pisses us off we need to cut ties with places like this. I am very much for respecting the mores/values of other countries but that doesn’t mean I need to send them my money.

  79. s35flyer says:

    Well, I don’t know what the big deal is. When your in another country obey the law. What did they expect?

  80. MommaJ says:

    No one forced this woman to work in Saudi Arabia. She was happy to collect a paycheck from the Saudi economy while Saudi women were being oppressed all around her, but it was suddenly an outrage when she didn’t get to live her life of privilege for one day. Pfft. If you don’t like it there, don’t work there. I wouldn’t.

  81. LissaKay says:

    “It’s their country, their culture, their “religion” and their laws” is one thing. It’s entirely another that they want to come over here and force the same oppressive laws upon us … HERE … in the US, Europe and the western world. That’s been the whole point of all the splodeydopes and smashing planes into buildings and chopping off heads.

  82. KJones says:

    If you hadn’t said Saudi Arabia, I would have assumed by the men’s actions it was Kentucky or Alabama.

  83. ShadowFalls says:

    I know one needs to respect laws and whatnot, but these seem to go along with the way the world was run hundreds of years ago by the Catholic church.

    I am not trying to knock on anyone, but this does make the people of the Islamic world seem like complete and utter idiots. It just seems silly to have such a stupid restriction. It even seems more silly someone actually cares about it.

    OMA! a woman is sitting next to another man! The world is at an end!?!

    I mean come on really, some people seriously need to figure out this is the 21st Century (A.D.)

    The funny part is she was actually following the law and doing what she was supposed to. Yet 3 guys in dresses scream a woman committed a horrible sinful act and suddenly she is drug off to jail.

    When are people going to realize that religion is just as made-up as their laws are?

  84. Pink Puppet says:

    @EvilConservative: I’m a woman and a feminist, and you know what? It is their law. You don’t like it? Don’t go there until the people of that country change their ways. I don’t like it either, but if I willfully went to another country, I would obey their laws or I would leave.

    Or, better yet, if you feel that strongly about it? Feel free to go there and fix it yourself.

  85. Adam Hyland says:

    @pinkpuppet: No you aren’t.

  86. Amelie says:

    @melanie.dawn: @kimsama:
    Yes, a woman getting arrested in Starbucks for not following an established, albeit moronic tradition, is totally akin to Jews in 1930 Germany. Thanks for trivializing the Holocaust.

    On second thought, why don’t you two go over to Saudi and put your money where you mouth is. I’m sure the Saudi women will appreciate having someone speak up for their rights.

    @Adam Hyland: I always depend on men to determine whether a woman is a feminist or not. As PinkPuppet said, “You don’t like the rules of a country, then stay away.”

  87. cmdr.sass says:

    @pinkpuppet: You can’t be a feminist if you don’t see a problem with this.

  88. Amelie says:

    @LissaKay: Oh please do tell me how you have been forced to live under Islamic rules? Your post can be summed up in one sentence: “Muslims are evil.”

  89. LissaKay says:

    A true feminist (not the ball-busting Feministing sort) would never defend any of the oppressive practices of Islam.

  90. Amelie says:

    @LissaKay: Way to go with the straw man argument. Saying you follow the guidelines of the country you’re in has nothing to do with feminism, your politics or religion.

  91. LissaKay says:

    @zouxou: Have you not been paying attention to these freaks? Those are THEIR words, their proclamations. Not that they would ever succeed, but they will make our lives hell while they try to force the rest of the world to submit to Islam. Wake up and smell the coffee, infidel! They are already here, already eroding away our rights, right here in the US, restricting our right to speak the truth about Islam, restricting out right to secure ourselves. Living in denial does not make the truth go away!

  92. femmesavante says:

    There is a basic misconception at work here. Simply sitting in the family section does not equate to following the law. Yes, it is the only place women are allowed to sit with men. No, that does not mean ANY male– it means male RELATIVES. She chose to disobey the law. Even giving her the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t know what the law meant, it is a basic tenet that ignorance of the law does not an excuse. I don’t agree with the laws oppressing (protecting) women in Saudi Arabia, but then I also disagree with many US laws. The bottom line is follow the damned law no matter where you are.

    As for the person equating this to the atrocities of Apartheid and the Holocaust, that is a red herring. I can follow the laws of Saudi Arabia (ie not be in public with a unrelated male) without turning over another woman to the police and without forcing her to do anything.

  93. Adam Hyland says:

    @zouxou: Meh. I’m just saying he/she isn’t a feminist. there is no reason to lie in order to lend credence to an argument. I mean, you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you I was a muslim fundamentalist if directly afterwords I made a convient arguement that just so happened to draw strength from an apparent lack of bias, would you?

    And quit trying to pull the H-triv card. Some things are comparable. the treatment of women in many cases in some of these places is as bad or worse than the treatment of communists, homosexuals and jews in germany before the actual start of the final solution. no one is actually, realistically telling you that apartied was the same thing as killing ~10M people. What we are doing is providing an analogy that shocks the conceience in order to get people to think about these rights violations for what they are, rather than spout some law and order nonsense.

  94. Ariah says:

    There’s a great Saudi blog that deals with a lot of this stuff. [muttawa.blogspot.com] The author doesn’t update it anymore (out of fear of discovery) but the archives are a great read.

  95. Adam Hyland says:

    @femmesavante: Ok. It was against the law for black people to be served at the same tables/area as white people in this country not to long ago. the reason that changed was that black people sat down to eat and didn’t get up. Should we have clucked our tongues at them or should we have gotten upset and wanted justice.

    No one here can go back in time and tell this woman to not sit down at that table. No one can go back and tell here that maybe saudi arabia isn’t the best place to work. What we can do is either be supportive of her or supportive of them. Let me know which side you are on.

  96. femmesavante says:

    @Adam Hyland: If she had broken this law with the intent to help Saudi women gain some independence, her case would be sympathetic. That isn’t the case. She had no greater purpose or goal aside from drinking coffee and getting her work done to get paid. So no, I am no supporting her. If the story were different where she did this in protest or it was a Saudi woman who was arrested, then I’d be on my soapbox screaming.

  97. smarty says:

    @Steel_Pelican: And I’m sure you haven’t spent a penny that had some direct or indirect benefit to SA. Also, care to go to SA and start imposing your morality on their residents? As the old saying goes, less talk, more action. Yet your actions are lacking and talk is cheap.

  98. Adam Hyland says:

    @femmesavante: I mean, did she need to? Maybe if she had known about the law, she might have broken it on purpose (not likely, but w/e). The fact remains that if she were a man, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, hell, if she were a saudi woman, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. That’s maybe more important. Did anyone in this thread even KNOW there was a law against this before today? How many women have gone to jail for getting a coffee with someone not their husband? How many other laws like this are there in Saudi Arabia?

  99. kable2 says:

    i cant stand muslems, they are so weird.

    that is all

  100. femmesavante says:

    @Adam Hyland: Actually I did know of this law before today. It’s Sharia law– basic Islamic law. In countries that follow Sharia law, a woman cannot be ANYWHERE with an unrelated male. Exceptions tend to be made for foreigners, but you are still expected to respect the laws in public places. So although working with her male coworkers in their office is permitted, flouting the law in public isn’t. Once again, learn the laws before you visit.

    True if it were a man we wouldn’t have the same conversation. We might have another. Given that you’re unfamiliar with the laws there, alcohol is illegal. A friend of mine decided to smuggle in vodka. He was caught with vodka in his hotel room, convicted and sentenced to five years. So by your logic, he should have been released and allowed to introduce the citizens to the freedoms of alcoholism? So as he sits in jail, my comment to him has been and still will be…”Dumbass, you should have followed the law.”

  101. banmojo says:

    F4#@ her, f4#@ Saudi Arabia, f$#@ anyone who travels there to do business with those backwards muthaf$#@#s. Ya gets watcha pay fer.

  102. Adam Hyland says:

    @femmesavante: In my opinion, we should be having the conversation about basic human rights and barbaric ideas of how to order what ought to be a free society.

    “Dumbass you should have followed the law” is right, but it should have been followed by “We shouldn’t really consider a nation civilized if they mete out 5 year sentences for possession of a bottle of vodka (or a joint for that matter).”

    I’m not prepared to call access to booze a basic human right, but I will call freedom to assemble and travel one.

  103. kable2 says:

    hehe you know that islam forbids men and women who are not related from being next to each other. Well in egypt they issued a fatwa(religious order) that said said since if the woman had breast fed the man they could not have sex……….

    coworkers should breast feed from their female workers and all would be fine… LOL

    //actually this makes sense to me ;)

  104. Southern says:

    “Ok. It was against the law for black people to be served at the same tables/area as white people in this country not to long ago.”

    Agreed, FemmSavante. It’s difficult to have a “Holier than thou” attitude about Saudi Arabia’s laws when laws such as this where themselves present in our OWN country just a scant 50 years ago.

    We still have a lot of “Stupid Laws” in this country as well though, although most of them are unenforced. I found one recently that boggled me, there’s actually a law on the books in Alabama that it’s illegal to pour salt on a railroad track, punishable BY DEATH. Eeep. Better be safe and not any any McDonalds fries around railroad tracks in Alabama. :)

    At any rate, I’m sympathetic to her cause, and I’m sure that the State Department will pull some strings and have any charges dropped.

    I feel much more sympathetic, however, to the people that actually LIVE there, such as teenagers that aren’t even allowed to socialize together, still have arranged marriages (which isn’t limited to just Saudi Arabia ya know, that’s prevalent in MANY societies, including India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, and (surprise!!) the UK & CANADA..

    But the only people that CAN change that are internal to the country, unless you really want to go to war with pretty much the entire world until EVERYONE abides by OUR laws.. *cough*.

  105. kable2 says:

    southern……… arranged marriages are not done in canada lol

  106. femmesavante says:

    @kable2: The lol is on you. There are arranged marriages in Canada and shocker… even the US.

  107. Amelie says:

    @Adam Hyland: You don’t get to define what and what isn’t feminism and your “if I was a Muslim fundamentalist” argument doesn’t work.

    As for this:
    What we are doing is providing an analogy that shocks the conceience in order to get people to think about these rights violations for what they are…”

    Don’t kid yourself. Because you and a few others have a different opinion, doesn’t mean I hold my opinion due to ignorance. Nor does it mean it will be changed by your “Weekly Reader” attempts at “enlightment.”

    If you’re so distraught about the Saudi mistreatment of women, you could enlighten us as to what you’ve done about it. I’m sure you’ve written numerous letters of protest to our government and companies that do business with the Saudis when there was that tragic fire at a girl’s school, a few years back.

    Along with your arrogant defining as to who and who isn’t a feminist, you’re now attempting to say their are only two sides to this case – an two sides that you alone have defined: “What we can do is either be supportive of her or supportive of them. Let me know which side you are on.

  108. brandymb says:

    We should follow the laws of the country we’re in, like people follow our laws when in our country? Since when? We can’t say Christmas for fear of offending someone, is a good example. Come out to California. You can take your drivers license test in any one of 33 languages, hell, you don’t have to speak English at all, just recognize the shape of the signs!

  109. Pithlit says:

    One is not required to support or condone humans rights violations when visiting another country. It’s not that difficult. She isn’t some petty scofflaw, for crying out loud. Sitting next to a man is so natural to her she probably didn’t even realize what she was doing. Saudi Arabia was wrong to arrest her just as any government anywhere would be. Ugh. Double Ugh. I have to stop reading the comments sections at most of the blogs I read because it makes me weep for humanity.

  110. Amelie says:

    @brandymb: Ah yes, the recently passed law that makes the mention of Christmas, a crime and the one that penalizes you for speaking English. Why your life is almost as difficult as women in Saudi Arabia. I believe God said that vengenance is mine.(Our Judeo-Christian God, of course.) Soon he will smite the immmigrant and the infidel and all will be fine.

  111. Helmut Spargle says:

    @brandymb: Yep, those anti-Christmas laws are starting to get to me.

  112. Amelie says:

    @Pithlit: While getting arrested is wrong, “not being able to sit next to an unrelated man,” scarcely qualifies as a human rights violation.

    Maybe you should weep for the real human rights violations, instead of the petty inconveniences.

  113. Helmut Spargle says:

    @zouxou: Well played, sir or madam.

  114. Adam Hyland says:

    @zouxou: I’m not telling anyone whose side they are on. That person (forget the name, pink something) claimed to be a feminist. I called bullshit. I wasn’t mandating that she was not a feminist, I was speculating. I bet a dollar he/she isn’t a feminist, because if she was, her response probably wouldn’t have been a more polite version of ‘bitch got what she deserved.” I could care less if she were in support of them or against them. That is her business. but it doesn’t really further debate for us to lie to one another.

    “What we are doing is providing an analogy that shocks the conceience in order to get people to think about these rights violations for what they are…”

    Am I not allowed to give that answer? Is it suddenly unfair to parallel the treatement of women in these countries to that of jews in germany BEFORE the holocaust? Is it wrong?

    And more importantly, why are you so fervently against the notion that men and women should have equal rights in these countries? Sure, the actual act of sitting down to coffee isn’t protcted, but the right to be treated in the same manner as a man by the law should be. We should be angry that these people for perpetuating a state where women are second class citizens. We should be angry at our government for coddling this state.

    But no, fuck it. Let’s just be angry at her. That’s easier. What a stupid woman. How could she have moved there and not known all of the rules, including those so ridiculous that you wouldn’t even think of them.

  115. Adam Hyland says:

    @zouxou: How is going to jail in a foreign country a petty inconvenience?

  116. Pipes says:

    @brandymb: Oh, I love that statement! Especially as one of those angry atheists that don’t celebrate Christmas. Christmas Christmas Christmas…totally just offended myself!

    Please. Don’t believe the media hype, it’s just not true.

  117. libertylaw says:

    As a female attorney, I am appalled by this behavior and any American should be. While it is natural to want to follow the laws of a country you are visiting (or live in), laws are used by the powerful to rule over the weak and the weak must rise up, in civil disobedience, to change them. You must must must learn to think for yourself and not blindly follow a law that has at it’s heart, evil as its intention, whether that is religious law or secular laws. It saddens me to see good people approve of bad behavior simply because “it is the law”.

    Apartheid in Africa was the law, and Nelson Mandela was jailed for many years while others said “but it’s the law”. Jim Crow was the law in the U.S. and many people died trying to sit at the front of the bus or at an all-white lunch counter while whites said “but it’s the law”. Anti-jewish regulations were the law in Germany and millions, yes millions, of people died while lots of citizens sat around saying “but it’s the law”, The U.S. system is not perfect, by any means, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other in the world. So shut up with your “it’s the law” argument. As a lawyer, that offends me.

    As to why this appears on Consumerist, Starbucks is an American company and the idea that they would support this type of behavior in their store, no matter where it’s located, is incorrigible. An American company should bring the best of American values with it, while trying to be respectful of local customs.
    I am sad now and will get off my high horse.

  118. facework says:

    Some of you (who think landing in a foreign prison qualifies as ‘petty inconvenience’) might want to watch Midnight Express.

  119. synergy says:

    Arrested for the wrong crime. She and everyone in there should’ve been arrested for going to a Starbucks.

  120. Crim Law Geek says:

    @howie_in_az and all the “when in Rome types”:
    It may be their country, but we as people do not have to accept bullshit oppressive laws, even if we chose to visit a place. To quote JFK, “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.” It is our duty to rise up against bullshit Medieval laws that oppress our fellow human beings.

  121. deVious says:

    @Steel_Pelican: Nicely said.

  122. Dude27 says:

    Iran and Saudi Arabia = same anti women laws (charia)

    Iran = Evil
    Saudi Arabia = Best friends

    Hypocrisy at its best….

  123. Dude27 says:

    other type of hypocrisy:

    Wearing a Anti-Bush T-Shirt if you are a student: same result as in Saudi Arabia when you ‘re woman sitting with men… arrested.

  124. Dude27 says:

    Integrism is a question of concept…. we can find too in our own backyard !

  125. Mo MoDo says:

    When Maureen Dowd was in Saudia Arabia with the Bush pilgrimage, she wasn’t allowed to use the hotel gym.

    “It’s not allowed for ladies to use the gym,” the Marriott desk clerk told me, an American woman in an American franchise traveling with an American president.

    I bet they charged her full price for the room.

  126. ClayS says:

    Iran: very openly anti-American and anti-west; big sponsor of terrorism.
    Saudi Arabia: very quiet about their anti-west feelings; big sponsor of terrorism. Contibuted millions to the libraries of Presidents Carter, Clinton, GHW Bush.

  127. Pink Puppet says:

    @cmdr.sass: Try to work on your reading comprehension, I stated that I disagree with what they did. However, I still believe that people need to respect the laws of other countries while they are willingly visiting there.

    It is up to the people, the citizens of Saudi Arabia to rise up against oppression, and I wish them luck.

  128. Amelie says:

    @Adam Hyland: You’re a riot. You say “but it doesn’t really further debate for us to lie to one another,” and then go on to make up these lies:

    1. Accusing a person who says one needs to follow the laws of another country as
    using more polite version of ‘bitch got what she deserved.”

    2. Accusing me of of being “fervently against the notion that men and women should have equal rights in these countries.” and ” angry at her.”

    Learn how to support your arguments without creating straw men and twisting people’s words to suit your purposes.

  129. taka2k7 says:

    @femmesavante: that’s a bit of a gross over-simplification. Not all Sharia laws are equal. Malaysia has Sharia law for Muslims and they don’t have such draconian interpretation (sure don’t shack up with a woman you’re not married to, but the same could be applied here in the US).

    Still, plenty of Muslims (not to mention non-Muslims) confuse Arab culture with Islam (e.g. hijab, veils — not required). Though when in Rome…

    But hey, we (most Western governments) still prop up plenty of repressive governments around the world for a variety of reasons. It’s no wonder people get pissed at us.

    I’ll get off my soap box now…

    @glycolized: yeah, why is this on consumerist?

  130. newdanistan says:

    In the future, wouldn’t the best defense just be a fake wedding ring? If all that is keeping these folks from breaking the law is some arbitrary vow, then fake being married and get on with your lives.

  131. kbuechner says:

    This is an article that brings up important issues, but I don’t understand why it’s on Consumerist. The fact that it happened in a Starbucks is not really significant. What does this have to do with consumer rights or the company as a whole?

    I’m not saying it shouldn’t be read or discussed, I’m just wondering why it should be discussed on this blog in particular Is this really the appropriate place for a debate on Islamic tradition in the modern world?

  132. When in Rome….

    While I may not agree with some parts of other cultures, this included… we would expect those who visit our country to follow our laws. If you can’t/won’t respect their laws… don’t go.

  133. @thirdgen: and how would you feel if those from other countries came to the U.S. and did the same thing because they hold different beliefs? What do you think would happen to them? I’m sure depending on the law that was broken, a short jail detention and a plane ticket home are among the possibilities.

  134. BugMeNot2 says:

    she should have known better, she obviously had been over there for a while so she would know the proper rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with a member of the opposite gender in public.

  135. gamehendge2000 says:

    The irony is that a man can sit on the lap of either a boy sheep or a girl sheep – it’s all good!

  136. Gann says:

    Yet one more reason we should allocate more funding for alternative energy sources.

  137. olegna says:

    Hanke is wrong:

    It’s legal in Saudi Arabia for men and women to be in public together. The interpretation by the highly conservative muttawwa in and around Riyadh is that khulwa (the Shariah law that prohibits men and women form being in “seclusion” together — as in, a room isolated form others) applies to public places.

    In other words: there is no law against it — it’s silly tribal interpretations that the Saudi gov’t tolerates out of constantly appeasing these tribal assholes.

    Also: A “US businesswoman” in misleading. Her parents are Jordanians and she grew up in Salt Lake City, but has been married to a Saudi for 27 years and they moved back to Saudi Arabia about 8 years ago. Her husband happens to be a bigwig in the more liberal city of Jeddah, which is why this story got publicity in the first place.

    So, hanke, you’re wrong: there is no law against unrelated men and women sitting together in Starbucks. It’s more complicated than that. Why do Americans always insist on looking at the world as if every place is just a more primitive version of the American way of doing things? To talk about “a law” in Saudi Arabia is not the same as talking about “a law” in Ohio. Very few things are codified in Saudi Law.

    For example: there is no “law” against women driving.

  138. dasverlangen says:

    The problem isn’t specific simply to Muslim culture – which is quite barbaric in many regards – it’s with religion itself. When you believe that an invisible man lives in the sky and wrote you instructions, albeit asinine, morally-depraved instructions and stands ready to punish you for not following those ridiculous edicts, when you truly BELIEVE it, there’s not much anyone can do to dissuade you from that sort of nonsense, no matter how illogical or unreasonable the command. Christianity also suffers from the same sort of blind unreason we see in the Bible – however, most christians have chosen to ignore the parts of the Bible which declares a woman to cover her head with a veil whilst in prayer. Muslims have not undergone any sort of reformation akin to the processes of christianity. While ancient Muslims did help advance math, sciences, and even the arts many centuries ago, since then they have beset their culture (and ours) with little else but a backslide into violent barbarism.

    Freedom of assembly simply isn’t prized in the Muslim world as it is here – in fact, an invisible man who controls their fate in the sky forbids them from it.

    For anyone who can acknowledge how absurd this is and has a good sense of humor, I recommend the webcartoon

  139. dasverlangen says:

    The problem isn’t specific simply to Muslim culture – which is quite barbaric in many regards – it’s with religion itself. When you believe that an invisible man lives in the sky and wrote you instructions, albeit asinine, morally-depraved instructions and stands ready to punish you for not following those ridiculous edicts, when you truly BELIEVE it, there’s not much anyone can do to dissuade you from that sort of nonsense, no matter how illogical or unreasonable the command. Christianity also suffers from the same sort of blind unreason we see in the Bible – however, most christians have chosen to ignore the parts of the Bible which declares a woman to cover her head with a veil whilst in prayer. Muslims have not undergone any sort of reformation akin to the processes of christianity. While ancient Muslims did help advance math, sciences, and even the arts many centuries ago, since then they have beset their culture (and ours) with little else but a backslide into violent barbarism.

    Freedom of assembly simply isn’t prized in the Muslim world as it is here – in fact, an invisible man who controls their fate in the sky forbids them from it.

    For anyone who can acknowledge how absurd this is and has a good sense of humor, I recommend the webcartoon http://www.jesusandmo.net