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Saudi to curb powers of religious police: reports


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The kingdom's religious police prevent women from driving and require them to be covered from head to foot in black.– AFP (File Photo)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will curb the powers of its 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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Comments (16) Closed

Aprophet False Oct 03, 2012 07:30pm
What a dreadful place Saudi Arabia must be to live in, all the oil in the world cannot make up for the lack of basic human freedoms
Pramod Oct 03, 2012 06:02pm
Very good news. if Islamic countries becomes modest like turkey than it ll help them to improve the condition of woman also it ll also help them to curb terrorism.
vj Oct 04, 2012 12:29pm
I agree, better police men. all problems will be over. What a nice world it will be. Men in Black.
Agha Ata (USA) Oct 04, 2012 03:30am
Let women be free, totally free to live their lives just like men; and order men to behave themselves. Send religious police to check men, not women.
ROHIT PANDEY Oct 05, 2012 12:55am
Scrap religious police...let "morality" be between a person and his/her conscience.
Truth Hurts Oct 04, 2012 10:33am
The worst condition of women is in India per international survey..... very easy to say what you feel like......
Truth Hurts Oct 04, 2012 10:34am
The begining to the problems starts.....
sattar rind Oct 04, 2012 08:26pm
is there any word to say what religious police doing in the Saudi. my God!
Gerry D'Cunha Oct 04, 2012 03:55pm
truth hurts my friend - you are right to give this title
Gerry D'Cunha Oct 04, 2012 08:05am
islam gives equal rights to women. Is it true?
Truth Hurts Oct 04, 2012 10:32am
What does it matter to you, you are in the land of free :-)
El Cid Oct 04, 2012 04:09pm
True, well known around the world.
Nasr KiKi Oct 04, 2012 11:04pm
Yes, baby girls born are unwanted in India. That is why they say in Urdu "Pehlay apnay bagahal mein jhanko or phir bolo"
G.A. Oct 04, 2012 05:37pm
Good. If the authorities dont solve this problem, the people will. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria are very good example of people 'solving' problems themselves.
Mohammed Baluch Oct 04, 2012 10:42am
This is good news - because what happens in S.Arabia has a considerable ripple effect - in this case, the ripple would be very positive!
NASAH (USA) Oct 03, 2012 03:13pm
As if the Saudi police is a state within a state.