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 are closed.

Comments (16)

Aprophet False
October 3, 2012 7:30 pm
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
October 3, 2012 6:02 pm
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.
October 4, 2012 12:29 pm
I agree, better police men. all problems will be over. What a nice world it will be. Men in Black.
Agha Ata (USA)
October 4, 2012 3:30 am
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.
October 5, 2012 12:55 am
Scrap religious police...let "morality" be between a person and his/her conscience.
Truth Hurts
October 4, 2012 10:33 am
The worst condition of women is in India per international survey..... very easy to say what you feel like......
Truth Hurts
October 4, 2012 10:34 am
The begining to the problems starts.....
sattar rind
October 4, 2012 8:26 pm
is there any word to say what religious police doing in the Saudi. my God!
Gerry D'Cunha
October 4, 2012 3:55 pm
truth hurts my friend - you are right to give this title
Gerry D'Cunha
October 4, 2012 8:05 am
islam gives equal rights to women. Is it true?
Truth Hurts
October 4, 2012 10:32 am
What does it matter to you, you are in the land of free :-)
El Cid
October 4, 2012 4:09 pm
True, well known around the world.
Nasr KiKi
October 4, 2012 11:04 pm
Yes, baby girls born are unwanted in India. That is why they say in Urdu "Pehlay apnay bagahal mein jhanko or phir bolo"
October 4, 2012 5:37 pm
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
October 4, 2012 10:42 am
This is good news - because what happens in S.Arabia has a considerable ripple effect - in this case, the ripple would be very positive!
October 3, 2012 3:13 pm
As if the Saudi police is a state within a state.
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