September 17, 2007
The head of the Riyadh Branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice inaugurated the test launch of what it called the “Awareness Messaging System via Bluetooth” at one of the Riyadhs large shopping centers.
The service, aims to send a number of awareness messages to youths visiting the shopping center from both genders.
Since the introduction of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones in 2004, The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has made several attempts to curb what it considers “the negative and immoral utilization of Bluetooth technology in violation of the Islamic Shariaa.” However, these attempts have failed in preventing the technology from finding its way into the hands of Saudi Arabia youths.
Dr Abdullah al-Shithri, head of the Riyadh Branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, does not consider this step a consequence of his organizations failure to fight what he regards as “the drawbacks that have emerged as a result of using Bluetooth technology.”
Al-Shithri told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Embarking on this course does not mean that our other efforts to fight the bad manifestations of this technology have failed. However, we do want to make use of modern technology.” He stressed his decisive rejection of the rumors that are being circulated that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is opposed to this technology. He said, “We are not against Bluetooth technology. Rather, we are against the misuse of any kind of technology.”
Although still in its testing stage, the “Awareness Messaging System via Bluetooth” according to Al-Shithri will be utilized in all of Riyadhs shopping centers and family parks.
Al-Shithri would not elaborate on the exact number of Bluetooth crimes that have been detected by his commissions fieldworkers, but did say that that “these crimes are in the hundreds.”
A study conducted in the Al-Qasim region northeast of Riyadh reveals that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has intercepted 500 Bluetooth messages. The study adds that 90 percent of these messages were sexual in nature.
The interesting part is that this really shows how far behind the US is on the technology adoption curve. Our government is still intercepting landlines, and the Saudis are over intercepting Bluetooth and on to spamming it. I don’t even know anyone who uses Bluetooth peer-to-peer connections (as opposed to printer/headphone/etc. connections) for legitimate purposes here, let alone for moral iniquities.
What does it take to send broadcast Bluetooth messages? Is the technology such that someone on, say, Umra could broadcast random aya-translations from Kanz al-Iman and salawat and tawassul-infused du`as to everyone about to enter Masjid Nabawwi or Masjid al-Haram? Sweet sufi subversion.