Saudi cabinet curbs powers of religious police | Reuters

DUBAI Saudi Arabia has barred its religious police from pursuing suspects or making arrests, curbing the powers of an institution whose aggressive enforcement of the Islamic kingdom's strict morality rules has drawn criticsm from more liberal Saudis. The force, which hardline clerics say is central to imposing Saudi Arabia's austere form of Sunni Islam, patrol public spaces to enforce bans on alcohol, music, prayer time store closures and the mixing of unrelated men and women. It also imposes strict modesty requirements on women's dress.

Reuters April 14, 2016 01:16:49 IST
Saudi cabinet curbs powers of religious police
| Reuters

Saudi cabinet curbs powers of religious police
 Reuters

DUBAI Saudi Arabia has barred its religious police from pursuing suspects or making arrests, curbing the powers of an institution whose aggressive enforcement of the Islamic kingdom's strict morality rules has drawn criticsm from more liberal Saudis.

The force, which hardline clerics say is central to imposing Saudi Arabia's austere form of Sunni Islam, patrol public spaces to enforce bans on alcohol, music, prayer time store closures and the mixing of unrelated men and women.

It also imposes strict modesty requirements on women's dress.

But from now on, members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) will not be allowed to pursue, question, request identification from or arrest suspects, according to a cabinet statement carried by state news agency SPA.

Members must instead report suspected crimes to the police or drug authorities, who will carry out law enforcement actions. Members are now also required to show identity cards while carrying out official duties, the statement said.

The move signals a possible shift to rein the religious police.

Speculation had swirled they could be given greater leeway under King Salman after he sacked a reform-minded religious police chief, a sworn foe of Saudi conservatives, in one of his first decisions after assuming the throne last year.

The new decree also established the role of the president of the CPVPV as a ministerial level position, appointed directly by royal decree.

The squad has come under fire online and in local media over several high-profile cases of car chases resulting in fatal accidents, prompting the commission's president to ban such pursuits in 2012.

However, a chase the following year killed a member of the Saudi police and put the commission in the spotlight after video from one of the passenger's phones was posted on social media.

The commission again stirred controversy online last month after video posted on social media showed members beating a young woman outside a Riyadh mall. The patrol had tried to force the woman to cover her face, local media reported.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Alison Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

also read

Market Roundup: Sensex ends 69 points higher, Nifty at 17,380; today's top gainers and losers
Business

Market Roundup: Sensex ends 69 points higher, Nifty at 17,380; today's top gainers and losers

The top gainers of BSE Sensex were IndusInd Bank, HCL Technologies, Kotak Bank, Bajaj Auto, and Tech Mahindra. While HDFC, Nestle India, Hindustan Unilever, and Tata Steel were the top losers

Goldman Sachs says India could surpass UK as world's fifth largest stock market by 2024
Business

Goldman Sachs says India could surpass UK as world's fifth largest stock market by 2024

Indian start-ups have raised $10 billion through IPOs so far this year — more money than was raised in the last three years, the investment bank said in a report dated 19 September

Delhi reported maximum number of rapes and murders in 2020 among 19 metros, shows NCRB data
India

Delhi reported maximum number of rapes and murders in 2020 among 19 metros, shows NCRB data

The capital accounted for nearly 40 percent of all rapes and almost 25 percent murder cases in the last year