Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Very Violent Ramadan: Since When Is Vehicular Homicide Halal?

I am traumatized and disgusted.

This has got to be THE most violent Ramadan I’ve ever witnessed in Kuwait. I’ve personally witnessed shouting fights, fistfights… not to mention all the crime articles in the newspapers. What is going on???

Last night, an old dude and his accomplice tried repeatedly to push The Romanian and I off the road with 2 separate vehicles (a Tahoe and a Maxima). This time, I’m going to have to file a case even though I really really don’t want the hassle. I just don’t think that attempted murder should be let go.

I believe that in my 12+ years in Kuwait, this incident frightened me more than anything else I've been through here; and I include the times when the scuds were falling in 2003. This was just sheer violent rage.

A million times, I have been on the receiving end of the patience (sabr) sign. (It is the sign where you put the fingertips of one hand together in a sort of triangle and you shake. It means for the other person to have patience.) So, I initiate the sabr sign after he honks his horn at ME and he goes apeshit; he lost his frickin mind. He had honked at several other people before me. Literally, honestly, I made no other signal and I didn’t even look at him, smile at him, make any other comment. He went his way; I went mine. No harm no foul.

Again, I understand that it is Ramadan and people are fasting and probably not in a great mood; however, that gives no one the right to do what he did - especially during Ramadan.

Much later on down the road, dude comes flying down the road, came around our car and stopped so that he was blocking my exit from the front. He aggressively jumped out of the car, took out his wallet and started to walk towards our car. He didn’t have police lights or any markings on his vehicle. Fearing for the worst, we moved around him and left. He came after us, repeatedly trying to hit our car with his. His car had no lights lit – not police flashers or even emergency flashers. I’m figuring the guy was some kind of an official – or maybe an off duty high-ranking officer of some kind. He enlisted the help of another driver – maybe a friend or just someone he asked to help and BOTH of them tried to box my vehicle in and run us off the road. The Romanian told me to keep cool. We didn’t speed; we didn’t endanger other lives. We knew that their intention was to cause us harm; so that we would get into an accident and then they could flee. At the same time, they were trying to avoid damage to their own vehicles.

Was it because we are foreigners? Was it because we are women? Was it a combination?

Now, this BS has happened to me before with little boys (as I’ve stated before – usually trying to give us a number), but never with a 50-something year old man. I couldn’t believe it. We frantically dialed 777 while it continued for 15-20 minutes from downtown Kuwait to Salmiya. There were no police on the road (before ftour - go figure).

[Sidenote: God forbid that anyone should want to commit a crime in Kuwait, but the time to do it is the 90 minutes before iftar. Criminals could walk into any official building in Kuwait and quite literally take it over. We went to a police station manned by ONE GUY. Deserted. The streets: Deserted of security. Where are the police? Where is the security of the nation?]

How many times are men going to cause accidents in Kuwait chasing women in one way or another? How many of those accidents you see around town are women on the receiving end of such violence?

Sorry, but to me, what those 2 men did to us last night was nothing short of attempted murder. I was shaking so hard that I couldn’t stop for hours - and I consider myself a pretty tough cookie. The only reason they finally took off was because The Romanian was taking multiple photos of them. We got a few good head shots (and the Tahoe's tag #). One of the suspects is in his 50’s; the other probably in his 20’s.

If anyone knows a good female Kuwaiti lawyer who would like to assist me in this case, please write to me (I have 2 very good male lawyers, but I believe a woman would try harder for me).

I think it is time that Kuwait did something about this type of violence.

September 29 Update

I have checked with quite a few people "higher up" to determine who I am dealing with before filing a case. No information is available for the car registration - which could mean a few things - unfavorable to filing a case. As someone at the Embassy so poignantly stated, I work for a private company and not the Embassy, so I am basically on my own should something happen. It is not the mission of the US Embassy (nor any other) to ensure the security of private citizens; and I completely understand that. The advice I have received from some folks is that I should file a case. That is great advice if you either have a security detail periodically checking your residence; or if you live with someone who can assist you should anyone show up at your door in the middle of the night. This is Kuwait, alas, and I don't know who crazy old dude is. If he is someone "up there" or with good wastah, I could have a world of trouble. Unfortunately, Kuwait is still the Wild Wild West. Maybe I would feel more comfortable in 50 years; but then again - maybe not. I guess I should have just rammed his car (and the other?) and then at least the police would have shown up faster and/or I could have gotten away.

Arab Times, November 6, 2008

I saw this article in the Arab Times today. I would like to know who the special task force is. Obviously, folks at the top level of law enforcement/Ministry of Interior are doing something about crimes being committed by their own/corruption. Isn't there a hotline that members of the public could call?

There is corruption and injustice everywhere in the world. Civilized nations do something about it. Good for the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior if they are actually trying to weed them out. Outstanding!


Anonymous said...

Now this is really pathetic.... Some people think they are over the law.... Their actions and atitude is really shameful and disgusting.. but unfortunatley they never be ashamsed of it..

I agree that country is like a no-mans land 60-90 Mins before iftar.

Since you have got their plate # and shots, I believe you should pursue them through the system.

Be Safe!

Anonymous said...

Is there an anger management association in kuwait?

Desert Girl said...

U2 Thanks for the comments.

Purple - if there were one, there wouldn't be so many stories of maids being abused.

Anonymous said...

Similar thing happened to me a few weeks ago. I wanted something to eat at 3am on the weekend (not a good idea by the way). 3 cars of men and young boys had me boxed in between their cars and then tried to force me into a parking lot on Gulf St. One kept flashing his crazy lights behind me to hinder my vision, the one in front of me kept slowing down so I would have to slow down, and the one to my left kept moving closer and closer to edge me off the road.

Fortunately there was a police check point right by the parking lot they were trying to force me to pull into, and they fled like roaches when the lights come on.

It's been MY scariest expereince in Kuwait.

So sorry to hear about yours.

TKG said...

That is absolutely terrible!!!! It is a weak excuse to use the month where you are not suppose to commit acts of violence to then in turn commit them! Where is the logic in that??

NBQ said...

Not that it is an excuse, but given your description of the perpetrator as 50 something, could it be that his bad vision confused your "sabir" gesture with that other road-rage related gesture? ;p

Desert Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

At first I thought it was I have started the using the road more than I used to previously...and then I realized...I hadn't changed the way I drive...which is highly defensive...
I got forced into similar situations at least 3 times in September....whats going on...!??

Desert Girl said...

As my friend says, The Tipping Point. "When behaviors spread just like viruses do." It has become "ordinary" that people's lives are risked - perhaps daily - on Kuwait's roads. It has become "ordinary" to be on the receiving end of road rage and vehicular violence.


In my case, I have a gut feeling that the perp was either in a governmental and/or police-related job. What does that make him: A criminal or a law enforcer?

I've heard it said that nothing can be done if you don't file a case. Guess what - until most foreigners can be guaranteed safety and a lack of retaliation through WASTAH, they (like me) will be reluctant to file.

Intlxpatr said...

I'm sorry this happened to you, Desert Girl. Being in the right totally sucks when you go up against Wasta.

Anonymous said...

hey so sorry to hear u've gone this horrible experience. Personally i think this has to do with kuwaiti attitudes. Dont get me wrong i'm from bahrain n i know alot of kuwaiti guys/girls n they are very friendly but the society is full of snobbery and cocky people who think they're better than others n surely better than foreigners :S things like this happen every where but in Kuwait it seems its becoming somewhat of a past-time for young men and people in the smallest position of authority. I visited kuwait recently and what i saw was appaling. The guys had hair cut comparable to the crazy ones we see in Japan:S i see 13-15 flirt so aggrissevly u'd be surprised :S i'm not an islamist nor am i liberal i believe in moderation and the extremes present in kuwait are just shocking! To me and my friends its seemed like kuwait's natioanl hobby was flirting which speaks to the low state the country has come to. I dont mean to say this as an attack on kuwait as I love kuwait and its people but its an honest insight on how things are in the present day.

Hope that u never have to experience wat u experienced again and that people there start to grow up into a more civilized and modest nation.

Take care and btw love your blog.

NBQ said...

"He's a coward and a kafr"
Excuse me, what's that last word? Not "Kafir"?

Desert Girl said...

Nbq - Thats what we thought too; although it absolutely was sabr. He probably thought that we were foreign and wouldn't use that sign. Regardless, to what extreme...

He's a coward and (obviously someone who has a misguided understanding of Islam). Point taken.

Jewaira said...

I'm really sorry you had to deal with that; it's unacceptable behaviour from anyone and would certainly be labeled criminal.

Shame on them.

And with regards to the Anonymous comment above (being cornered by cars)
that is outrageous.

I guess there is lots that goes on we don't know about.

faisalalawadhi said...

Trying to understand the story from the other side, I put myself in the Kuwaiti guy's shoe and assuming that even he doesn't know what a sabr sign is. I can see how his rage was triggered, a foreigner flips me off and drives off is enough to drive me crazy.

In my years studying in the US, i knew better than to signal with my hand to a honking driver whatever the sign is. Different cultures can have the same hand gesture offensive to one and peaceful to another.

I am not defending his actions. I personally would honk hard at you (or blind you with flash light) and speed away from you in rage. Obviously he had issues that day.

I would advise you to consider this a misunderstanding, showing the wrong hand gesture at the wrong man. Take it easy, Kuwait is not a wild west.

Desert Girl said...

Faisal - thanks for stopping by and commenting. Everyone is entitled to their own oppinion.

I respect yours; however, I disagree in that Kuwait does have lawless "Wild Wild West" aspects. Take, for further example, the fights breaking out all over Kuwait during the harmonious and joyous occassion of Eid.

As far as my incident goes - I don't see that anyone could condone such behavior from any sort of a "signal". I didn't go crazy when he almost slammed into my car (wrongfully) and then honked at me. I didn't follow him down the street with the intention of causing him bodily harm by causing an accident. I don't see how this type of behavior could be justified by any means.

I have received the "sabr" sign many many many many times. I would think that 99.9% of the Kuwaiti population recognizes the signal since most have used it before.

As far as taking it easy - if the same had happened to a female member of your family, I am sure you would not have that reaction.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous (Sun, Nov 30, 2008 at 10:16 PM) - I had to edit just a leetle bit. Sorry, but the way things are going these days....

Ramadan Road Rage

totally horrifying story...i am blonde and have had a couple of day time and a few night time attempts from 'locals' - literally driving sideways into my car to scare me into the ditch. Why, why not? Frustrated Arab locals who want to kill me cause I don't want to sleep with them.

It's culture said the Policeman in Oman when I attempted to file a report. He refused to file it.
And after taking my mobile number the Policeman found joy in sending me sms's to request English lessons. And that he would 'pay me' for them.

Well I had an army mate sort him out.

In the UAE when it happened. I pulled over stopped. And waited 20 minutes to calm down. I know now that in the Gulf the police are not at all interested in protecting women.

blablabla about the sacred females.

With regards to Kuwait. I turned down an offer to come at Ramadan. For one reason only. RAMADAN ROAD RAGE. The worst I have seen was in Dubai. I imagine Kuwait is more violent due to their being more locals and less mixed nationalities.

How many expats dare express road rage and the jail sentence. Almost none.

Now am heading to Kuwait..finally in time for Eid, where at least all the sugar keeps them up and tired for work the next day. lol.

I love the Gulf. I just don't respect or tolerate the bullshite that comes with it. It is time for the Gulf states to have laws that actually protect women.

As for what happened to you....i recommending keeping a portable black Hajab hair scarf when driving during Ramadan or alone at night.

I did this and it helped, but not for the times in the day when they thought it was to see if i would hit the concrete road on Emirates Highway.