Little Mosque On The Prairie

No Fly List

Women As Drivers and Donkey Riders

Baber can't give a keynote speech at a conference in Chicago because he's on the American no fly list. Amaar and Rayyan persuade him to fight the power by taking a day-long road trip to the American consulate ... (CBC)

Can the writers of Little Mosque be this subtle? I was about to label this episode the lamest yet, when it dawned on me; the No Fly List which the Baber character lies about being on because he is afraid to fly, is not about profiling, as the title might suggest, but about women drivers.

The beautiful character Rayyan drives two man, neither of whom is a close male relative or her husband, to a town more than 4 hours away as the car crawls, and drives them back with nothing much out of the ordinary happening. Like I said, my first reaction was “how lame.”

During this day-long trip neither of Rayyan's two male passengers behaved in the manner predicted by Allah and His Messenger. Even in the close confines of a compact car for hours on end where “the scent of a woman must have been overwhelming”, neither man experienced the predicted Pavlovian reaction and attempted to jump the delectable Rayyan’s bones, or expressed any desire to do so.

It was hoped that when Saudi state-owned television broadcast an episode of the popular satirical comedy series Tash Ma Tash (loosely translated, “You get it or you don’t”) where “characters [dubbed the guardians of virtue] debated if women should be allowed to ride donkeys” that the king was signaling that he was ready to entertain the thought of women drivers.

Even more promising, the debate was won by those who would allow women to ride donkeys. The only question left unanswered was how to ensure that women were protected from men when riding their donkeys on a public roadway, and vice versa.

One guardian of virtue proposed digging tunnels for women only; another suggested females should sit in closed wooden boxes atop their donkey and navigate using periscopes; another wanted a tent with a narrow slit; another would see separate roads being built for men and women; still another said that they should build women-only-cities that only husbands and close relatives could visit.

The mullahs (experts in Islamic law) were not amused. The ban on women drivers was extended to include golf carts.

In this bizarro-type world* where mullahs** hold sway, complain about an unfairness and the unfairness is increased. In 2006, a 19-year-old Saudi woman was gang-raped by seven men. She was sentenced to be whipped in public for being seen, just before the rape, sitting in car next to an unrelated man. When she complained that this was unfair the sentence was increased from 90 to 200 lashes.


* Bizarro was Superman's opposite, his doppelganger. He lived on a "bizarro world" where up was down, left was right, go meant stop, goodbye meant hello ... Bizarro is a term often used to describe a person or thing that uses a twisted form of logic.

** A mullah interviewed on Saudi television said that schools for girls should be built downwind from boys schools so that the girls’ scent (pheromones) did not reach the boys and distract them from their studies and worship of Allah.

Bernard Payeur, Rev. July 16, 2011