A look at the Gulf papers from the past few weeks reveals disturbing tales of a kind of behavior that was once unknown here.
In Jeddah, two as yet unidentified men killed a father of 3 in front of his restaurant. The two men had been following a car in which some girls were traveling. The girls became so frightened that they were forced to take refuge in a restaurant owned by Mansour Fakhry. Like a good Muslim, Mansour protected the young girls from their pursuers and went outside to find out what was going on. When he confronted the two men, they became aggressive and began fighting with him. In the end, they knocked him to the ground, killed him by running over him and then drove off.
A shawarma seller was stabbed to death by a group of young men. A gang of housebreakers were finally caught but not after causing considerable consternation and alarm.
Suicide attempts seem to be on the increase among Gulf nationals.
In the Gulf News, we see pictures of young men arrested for harassing women. It seems there is a group of people here who take delight in causing physical and mental anguish to women; however, what has really caused an outrage in society was the cold-blooded killing of Mansour Fakhry, the restaurant owner. This crime is totally alien to our society and as such its implications are difficult to fathom.
People have commented favorably on crime reporting. We can no longer pat ourselves on the back and say we are a perfect society; no society is.
Many social ills have crept into our society. And please spare me. Don't blame it on Western culture and influence or the "cultural invasion" through satellite communication.
As Shakespeare says: "The fault is in ourselves."
As parents we have neglected our children in pursuit of material gain. Yes, the extended family has all but disappeared. It also seems that parents are incapable of establishing the proper Islamic atmosphere at home.
The absence of good role models in society adds new and dangerous dimensions to an already volatile situation.
There are those amongst us who believe that tough measures must be imposed; however, all social problems cannot be solved by simply imposing tough punishments. Deterrence is important but we need a deeper study to look at the origins and causes of the problems. Let us take one example: Almost every day, we see pictures of youths arrested for harassing women.
I am totally in favor of this exposure and the Dubai authorities are to be commended. The punishment could be improved upon by having the heads of the guilty parties shaved, giving them a uniform and ordering them to clean the streets. They should also be confronted by their victims who would ask them how they would feel if their women family members were subjected to the same harassment. I get annoyed when I read about harassment of women. I notice from the letters to the editor column in the Gulf News of the pain and humiliation felt by women as they are stared at or sometimes groped by men. Apart from corporal punishment, I strongly suggest there are psychological programs and consequently there should be psychological treatment and solutions. Let us also have a seminar to discuss this aspect of our youths behavior. It is no use proclaiming to ourselves that we are the perfect society.
Violence and intolerance have now arrived in our society. We cannot ignore them or try to hide them. We have to confront them and challenge them boldly in ways and by methods that are traditionally Arab and Islamic.
Another thing that we need to take into consideration: The law must apply to all. Any one violating it or breaking accepted social conventions should be punished - be he from the highest level of society or the lowest.
Only then can we have a society devoid of the unnecessary ills that have crept in.