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Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 27/2/2006It's time to reveal the latest threat to the moral integrity of the Islamic world. Recent events might suggest caution, but as this comes from a report in Okaz — a Saudi newspaper not known for great variation from the official line — I feel on safe ground.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Monday 27/2/2006

It's time to reveal the latest threat to the moral integrity of the Islamic world. Recent events might suggest caution, but as this comes from a report in Okaz — a Saudi newspaper not known for great variation from the official line — I feel on safe ground.

The revelation comes courtesy of one Khaled Al-Sulaiman, a Saudi who travels widely. He writes: "During my trips to Europe, South Asia and some Gulf countries, I attempted to activate the Bluetooth device on my mobile phone. The only place where my device was able to receive a connection via Bluetooth was inside a shopping mall in Bahrain. Appropriately, the shopping centre was crowded with Saudi shoppers. Elsewhere, the Bluetooth wireless connection was quiet."

We've had our Bluesnarfing scares in London, it's true, and if you do a scan in any reasonably crowded place you'll find a scattering of people with their connections active. That's mostly for headsets, though, and that's not what Al-Sulaiman's getting at.

"This continuous obsession with Bluetooth is confusing. It’s not just a youthful fad. It has extended to the elderly as well. The Bluetooth wireless connection is considered an essential medium for easy acquaintance, digital harassment and other less seemly audiovisual exchanges"

Aha! Unseemliness is rampant, even among the elderly! This is doubtless also fuelled by the fact that Bluetooth is highly unlikely to be intercepted by the religious policemen who monitor public decency in the Kingdom. The muttawa, members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are very keen to stop anything unseemly at all — you can read much more about them here — but Bluetooth is beyond them because of its short range and the fact that they're not prominent early adopters of new technology.

And see what happens when society slips beyond the control of its guardians? "Unfortunately, mobile phones, Internet chat-rooms, instant messaging, and Bluetooth can all be abused. This abuse is widespread and it proves that society suffers from ethical and behavioural problems. Why is this happening in spite of all the moral lessons we are taught since the day we are born till the day we die?", wonders Al-Sulaiman.

Why indeed? It's difficult to ascertain the moral lesson that Bluetooth is teaching us but perhaps if we all think about it very hard we might begin to understand.

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