Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia jails man for taking a woman to hospital
Then up to five men identifying themselves as members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrived and took him and the three women visitors into custody, accusing him of being alone with his neighbour. He was later taken to prison, the paper said without elaborating on what happened to the three women.
Lawal's help for his neighbour "has landed him 50 days and counting behind bars", Arab News said.
The religious police, commonly known as Muttawa, enforce a strict Islamic moral code in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to mix with men other than their relatives. Complaints about excesses attributed to the 5 000-strong force have increasingly appeared in the local press in recent months. Last week, a court acquitted three members of the religious police and a policeman over the death of a man in their custody in the northwestern city of Tabuk. The victim had also been accused of associating with a woman who was not a relative.
The interior ministry issued a decree in May 2006 aimed at reining in the Muttawa by requiring them not to interrogate detained suspects, as they had previously done, but to hand them over to the regular police instead. However, Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz last month defended the Muttawa, accusing journalists of exaggerating recent abuse allegations.
6 August 2007
Source: AFP via Independent Online (South Africa), based on reports from Arab News (06/08/07)
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