Saudi religious police banned from spying

The president of the commission also warned the religious police members working in the field against displaying any signs of extremism

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Members of the Saudi religious police, officially known as the Commission for Promotion of Virtues and Prevention of Vice, have been barred from spying on people or chasing suspects.

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Asheikh, president of the commission, also warned the police members working in the field against displaying any signs of extremism or religious fanaticism. He was talking during a visit to the police headquarters here Sunday by Riyadh Emire Prince Turki Bin Abdullah.

According to local daily Al-Watan, al-Asheikh said there were six “nos” religious police members should stay away from: Spying, extremism, fanaticism, authoritarianism, harming people and chasing suspects. He said the force is applying rules and regulations equally among all citizens and residents without any distinction.

Al-Asheikh said the members have been instructed never to abuse any man or woman. They should always be lenient and nice to everyone. “No one should be falsely accused or deliberately harassed. The members should not resort to devious means just to incriminate the others,” he said.

The religious police has 12 branch offices, 129 sub-commissions and 345 centers scattered all over the Kingdom.

Al-Asheikh noted a remarkable rise in blackmailing cases where some men threaten women to scandalize them using their photos if they did not acquiesce to their illegitimate desires. “We received 729 complaints from women accusing men of trying to blackmail them during the past two months including 120 in Riyadh alone,” he said.

The religious police chief called for stringent laws to punish the blackmailers whom he described as “sick people” who are trying to dominate and enslave women.

He advised the families to take good care of their girls and not to leave them fall prey to “human wolves”.

Al-Asheikh revealed that the force has established a special office to combat sorcery and talisman and said in a matter of few weeks the office received 586 complaints against sorcerers. “We have caught 51 of them and destroyed more than 2,200 talisman works,” he said.

Al-Asheikh also said the force has dealt with 762 cases of pervert sexual behavior, 2,607 alcohol cases and shut down 750 alcohol breweries in the Southern Province.

He said on request by the force, the concerned security authorities have blocked 24,508 promiscuous Internet sites. “The religious police has recently confiscated a large quantity of alcohol worth more than SR15 million in Jeddah and dealt with 355 drug cases,” he added.

Prince Turki warned young men harassing women in malls that they will be dealt with severely. Earlier, several malls banned the entry of singles in shopping centers and malls. This ban has been recently lifted.

This article was first published in The Saudi Gazette on June 24, 2014.

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