Saudi religious police distances itself from viral video

The Haia said the man who recently appeared in a video clip beside one of the Haia’s vehicles

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The Saudi religious police said the man who recently appeared in a video clip waving threats against homosexuals and those who blackmail young women is not one of its personnel.

The Presidency for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice described the man as an impostor, Al-Hayat daily said.

The Commission, through its spokesman Turki Al-Shelayyil, also said it will investigate and punish the person who arranged for the man to shoot video clips next to one of its vehicles.

If he is convicted of impersonation, he will be imprisoned for 10 years or be fined or both.

The video clip elicited a response from the commission's presidency as it contained words and insinuations that violate the regulations and policies of the Saudi religious police, specifically the principle of “promoting virtue and preventing vice”.

In the video, a man whose appearance indicates that he is a member of the religious police was standing next to a vehicle belonging to the Commission. He subsequently makes numerous threats, something that prompted the Commission to find out his true identity so appropriate action can be taken against him.

The man appeared to be about 30 years of age. He threatened youths who blackmail young women after establishing relations with them and those who take part in homosexual relations.

The video clip was shot in the parking lot of a building whose outer courtyard contained vehicles owned by the religious police. The man spoke in a threatening tone and repeatedly pointed at the Commission’s logo on the side doors of the vehicle.

He goes on to say: “Good evening. Those who blackmail women or have homosexual relations, I swear by Allah if you don’t become disciplined, this will make you disciplined.”

He then points at religious police vehicle. The video clip aroused the anger of many people in society with many social media users criticizing the man.

Meanwhile, informed sources disclosed to Al-Eqtisadiah daily that the commission has referred the owners of 146 Twitter accounts to the Bureau for Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) after the commission detected that they use the website to spread immorality and homosexuality.

This is at a time when Jibreel Arishi, deputy chairman of the Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee in the Shoura Council, said no social media website should be closed down, especially since their users have reached nearly seven million.

He added that one cannot put the blame for bad behavior on social networking websites, but the people who misuse the websites.

“In all societies, there are people who are not deterred from committing corrupt acts or harming others except by the force of the law. The articles of the cyber crime law in the Kingdom guarantee punishment for using means of information technology in corrupting people or disturbing national security,” he said.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014.