Several young men have been arrested by the religious police in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia for the heinous crime of dancing at a birthday party, the Associated Press has reported. The AP learned of the arrests from a news site called Ayn al-Youm, which is not to be confused with Arab libertarian writer Ayn al-Rand. One official said the men were in "a comprising situation in their dance and shameful movements," and warned parents in the kingdom to advise their children not to dance "because it can lead to immorality and even homosexuality."
Now, before you go poo-pooing that crazy idea, the Saudis know exactly what they're talking about here. Just consider the case of our very Christian and once very heterosexual president, George W. Bush.
Here's Bush doing a seemingly harmless sword dance with a group of Saudi men:
But the debauchery didn't end there.
I know what you're: Just because two guys are holding hands, it doesn't necessarily mean that--
Joking aside, the arrests of the aforementioned young men are just the latest disturbing example of the oppressive conditions that Saudi citizens face on a regular basis. Despite the death of King Adbullah (pictured above, being gay), who was wrongly regarded by some as a reformer, his successor King Salman is unlikely to offer much hope of any meaningful changes.
The United States has been a staunch supporter of the Saudi royal family going back more than half a century, and this unpleasant fact makes news of the dancers' arrests even more unpalatable. Saudi Arabia's regime is even more oppressive than its rival in Iran, and arguably it has done more to fund Islamic extremism and terrorism around the world. Furthermore, its abysmal treatment of women is something more befitting the Dark Ages than the 21st century.
Of course, the foundation of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia is and always has been the latter's vast oil reserves. Until we in the U.S. and the rest of the world can find cleaner and better ways to fuel our daily lives, we will continue to have some very strange bedfellows.
And not just in a gay way.