Monday, April 04, 2005

Culture watch - Al Jezeera looks at Japan, Al Qaida in Saudi Arabia

I don't know is this is the case of a pot studying the color of a kettle, but it makes me wonder how Americans might react if a train system in New York or Washington reacted to sexual harrassment complaints by running "women only" cars. This is from Al Jezeera online:

Tokyo has began its first women-only subway car during the morning rush hour in a bid to crack down on groping, which is rampant on the Japanese capital's crowded trains. The special carriage, which started operating on Monday runs from 7.30am to 9.30am on the Saikyo Line. This line does a loop around Tokyo and is notorious for groping due to the relatively long distance between stations.

A women's car during evening rush hour has been in operation since July 2002 on the Saikyo Line, whose stops include Japan's busiest station Shinjuku, the entertainment district of Shibuya and central Tokyo Station.

A police report in February said groping on Tokyo trains had tripled over the past eight years. It urged rail firms to set up more women-only cars.

"We are going to study whether we will expand to other lines in the future," said a spokesman for the East Japan Railway Co, which operates the Saikyo Line.

Other big cities in Japan such as Osaka have already introduced women-only cars during morning rush hour. But Tokyo presented more logistical problems due to its large number of lines, which carry a million people a day.

A number of other railway companies in Tokyo are due to start women-only cars in May on their busiest lines or on rapid trains which tend to be more crowded than local trains.

Police said 2201 cases of groping and more serious sexual assault took place last year on trains, with one-third of the victims being high school girls. The cases led to 1886 arrests, with offenders' ages ranging from 14 to 80.


High school girls going to school on the train? Offenders up to eighty years old? (Don't they know about yellow school busses and dirty old men?)

And how about security cameras an enforcement officers? Looks to me like a case of bending over backward to avoid requiring men to have better conduct.

* * * *
The front-page news indicates that some Arabian chickens are coming home to roost. I'm trying hard not to be smug or cynical.

Saudi security forces have killed eight insurgents in an ongoing siege in the northern town of al-Ras, security sources have said.
Aljazeera said clashes were still ongoing as insurgents hurled grenades at police from their hideout in al-Ras in the al-Qassim region, 350km northwest of the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Witnesses said gunfire could still be heard on Monday morning in the neighbourhood of al-Ras which security forces had surrounded since early Sunday. Officials described the insurgents as "terrorists".
Aljazeera learned that at least one Saudi police officer was shot dead on Sunday and another 15 had been wounded by midday.
Other sources said a total of 35 members of the security forces had been wounded.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia's al-Ekhbariya television broadcast comments from Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abd al-Aziz, Amir of the al-Qassim region, confirming that three suspected fighters had been shot and killed.
"They were asked to surrender, but those people are known not to listen," Faisal told the television station. He described the armed men as "terrorists" but did not say which organisation they belonged to.
The firefight erupted about 8am (0500 GMT) in the city of al-Ras after security forces surrounded several wanted men in a neighbourhood called al-Jawazat, a security source in Riyadh said. The gun battles began early on Sunday morning and dragged on into the night, Reuters quoted a security source as saying. Several security vehicles were damaged.
Another security source earlier said the clash erupted as security forces raided a house where "suspected members of the deviant group [official terminology for suspected al-Qaida sympathisers] were believed to be hiding".
Witnesses said they saw at least three people being carried away from the house on Sunday morning, but it was not clear whether they were wounded or dead.
The incident came less than a month after a suspected al-Qaida member was arrested along with two of his companions, after a heavy gun battle on 13 March in the Red Sea city of Jedda.
Violence blamed on al-Qaida since May 2003 has killed 90 civilians, according to official figures.
Thirty-nine members of the security forces and 92 fighters have also been killed.
I am interested in the part I highlighted.
We don't know what "another security source" is, but it reads like "one official" in US media when they are really quoting someone like the Secretary of State who doesn't want to be on record but wants the information to be published. The fastidiously-worded "official terminology" bit is pretty transparent.

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