Saudi to curb powers of religious police: Reports

Published: October 3, 2012
Religious police agents will be prohibited from "standing at shopping malls entrances to prevent entry of any person". PHOTO: AFP

Religious police agents will be prohibited from "standing at shopping malls entrances to prevent entry of any person". PHOTO: AFP

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will curb the powers of its notorious religious police charged with ensuring compliance with Islamic morality but often accused of abuses, a newspaper report said on Wednesday.

“The new system will set a mechanism for the field work of the committee’s men which hands over some of their specialisations to other state bodies, such as arrests and interrogations,” Al-Hayat daily quoted religious police chief Sheikh Abdullatiff Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh as saying.

Agents of the body known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice will also be banned from carrying out “searches without prior approval from the governor,” he said.

Okaz daily also reported that the religious police agents will be prohibited from “standing at the entrances of shopping malls to prevent the entry of any person,” referring to attempts by agents to ban women who do not comply with the Islamic dress code and unmarried couples from entering malls.

Relatively moderate Sheikh, appointed in January as the new chief of the religious police, has raised hopes that a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the Islamic country.

Two weeks into his post, Sheikh banned volunteers from serving in the commission which enforces the kingdom’s strict Islamic rules.

In April he went further, prohibiting the religious police from “harassing people” and threatening “decisive measures against violators.”

In June, Sheikh came out strongly against one of his men who ordered a woman to leave a mall because she was wearing nail polish.

The woman had defied the orders as she filmed her argument with the policeman and posted it on YouTube.

The kingdom’s religious police prevent women from driving, require them to be covered from head to foot in black, ban public entertainment and force all businesses, from supermarkets to petrol stations, to close for prayers five times a day.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Saleem
    Oct 3, 2012 - 4:34PM

    The saudi mentality is stuck in the stone age. By the time they catch up to 2012 it will be 3012 in the rest of the world.


  • Hillarious
    Oct 3, 2012 - 4:42PM

    wow..Hearing new Islamic laws…Nail polish is for ladies ,so if they can’t use them , then shall the saudi men use it ?I wonder what will happen if they find a woman smoking or drinking which is a very very common thing now a days . Saudi has become rich economically because of petro dollar , but this petro dollar has made it mentally dumb.


  • Mj
    Oct 3, 2012 - 4:55PM

    Welcome to the 18th century. We’ll be waiting for you in the 21st.


  • islooite
    Oct 3, 2012 - 5:52PM

    My God ! living in KSA appears an absolute night mare . they are living in stone age literally .


  • The Truth
    Oct 3, 2012 - 6:02PM

    @Saleem & MJ.. Saudi is much more developed country than Pakistan and India in every aspect of life.. They are not living in stone ages.. and What have you achieved if you are living in Ist century…


  • GT
    Oct 3, 2012 - 6:17PM

    @The truth The prosperity you are referring to has only come because of their natural reserve oil.Even that oil reserve was discovered by Americans. Apart from that they have nothing much to offer to the rest of the world.


  • Khalid
    Oct 3, 2012 - 6:32PM

    @ The truth. Development is not all about the size of your roads and buildings. It is about social development as well. There is a reason that Turkey is considered a developed country while all countries in the Middle East except Israel are still considered as developing. Take away Saudi Arabias oil today, and they will be back to the stone ages in a couple of months.


  • Jamshed
    Oct 3, 2012 - 7:06PM

    Another recent gem from Saudia. They airbrushed women out of the Ikea catalogue. Apparently women dont exist in a Saudi home. More power to brotherly love!!


  • Chopper
    Oct 3, 2012 - 7:15PM

    @The Truth, you’re arguing with atheists, to them adhering to islam is stoneage mentality.


  • Pakistani Agnostic (Riyadh)
    Oct 3, 2012 - 9:33PM

    Look at all these Pakistanis and and insulting Saudi as if they are the superpowers and Saudi is their client state.
    Last time i checked, there are 1.5 million Pakistanis working here and increasing every day while there are 2 million Indians (many of them hindus).


  • reader
    Oct 3, 2012 - 10:50PM

    If American discivering Saudi oil is problem pls dont forget tSui was discovered by Burma.


  • Mj
    Oct 3, 2012 - 11:17PM

    @Pakistani Agnostic (Riyadh):
    That doesn’t mean we have to adopt a servile attitude.


  • sid
    Oct 3, 2012 - 11:21PM

    @Pakistani Agnostic (Riyadh):
    Let the oil finish………..They will send another Bin Quasim…………..Recommend

  • shazada zahid mahmoud loan
    Oct 3, 2012 - 11:43PM

    All these comments are ignorance on the part of many. Saudi Arabia is fast developing as an industrial power in the region and if the petro-dollars run out it will not hurt the country or the people. It is a great place to live in – it is ahead of any and.every country in social development index. What we should not allow is to let immorality to creep in and then battle for ever countering it – as is the case in Europe and North America. They are corrupt and they want to do the same to Saudi Arabia – in Britain(UK) 60 per cent of non-muslim teenage girls become pregnant when they are 14 and the government spends millions of pounds trying to arrest the problem – there you have it. If you do not like Saudi way of life – the solution is simple – get out fast. Those that are stupied and ignorant you can not argue with – Saudi Arabia is developing fast under the leadership of King Abdullah – an enlightened man. I (at one time being an anti-monarchist) salute the King’s wisdom.


  • XD
    Oct 4, 2012 - 10:48AM

    For all you ignorant people out there…suadi industry is HUGE…they have one of the largest industrial complexes in Jubail and Yanbu and are developing other industrial cities as well…the kind of volumes that they deal in…we cant even match 10% of that…their infrastructure is very strong…
    The oil argument can also be said about us…we have the largest coal reserves and some very large gas reserves…what have we done about it?? zilch…atleast they are putting their resources to good use…we are just sitting on top of our resources not employing them anywhere and thus wasting their value..


  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Oct 4, 2012 - 10:56AM

    @Pakistani Agnostic (Riyadh)

    1.5m Pakistanis and 2m indian are working heard and making Saudi Arabia is what it is today, otherwise Saudis themselves are incompetent. unfortunately people like you devalue their efforts and in some cases sacrifices of Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi laborers in the eyes of Saudis.


  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Oct 4, 2012 - 10:59AM

    @The Truth

    Despite all those petro-wealth how much Saudis are contributing in term of science and technology innovations!!! None, this is a fact.


  • Liberal
    Oct 4, 2012 - 11:53AM

    Saudi is a nightmare but every Pakistani liberal has submitted its resume for a Saudi job. Money comes first!


  • Rajendra Rana
    Oct 4, 2012 - 12:20PM

    but Pakistanis are following KSA in every sphere of life


  • Feeka
    Oct 4, 2012 - 2:54PM

    ET filters comments favoring KSA – blow to freedom of expression. Looks like no one is ready to miss the free ride to Mecca.


  • G. Din
    Oct 4, 2012 - 6:28PM

    “Even that oil reserve was discovered by Americans. “
    They didn’t even know they were sitting atop a huge lake of oil. Even if they had known, what could they have done? They didn’t know how to extract it. Even if they knew how to extract it, what could they do with it If there were no customers for their product like Americans.
    Shallow-minded bullies of their numerous begums! They are a disgrace to mankind!


  • Arsal
    Oct 5, 2012 - 10:07AM

    @ Naeem Siddiqui

    Hello Brother where are you living I think you are living in MARS just visit KSA’s Unis, …I am sorry for the attitude..following are the references for the latest development in Saudia Arabia (Not all). Just visit King fahad, King Abdullah and all other unis, you will find Pak Unis no match with them (in actual research and innovations). They have a lot of Patents and Publications and we Pakis..(i am sorry to say) just talk and pointing the bad aspect of others…..
    Mr. Check your Science innovations and…….you will find rata only…..
    and this nuke thing is due to some western knowledge and (?) gained by our people from their unis and research org and ……


  • Oct 12, 2012 - 7:51PM

    so many nationals are distroying saudi culture and are ruin its piouness espiciaaly pakistanis. bungalis, ,this were not , when saudi was so famous of its , peacefulness …….thnq.Recommend

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