Saudi Official: Plans for Women in Religious Police
By Jack Phillips On October 18, 2012 @ 8:10 pm In Middle East | No Comments
A Saudi official said there are plans to enlist more women in the country’s controversial religious police force.
Thus far, women have not been able to join the feared Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, otherwise known as the religious police, called the “mutaween.”
“We now need women to work for the commission. … Our vision is that they will work separately from men under the direct supervision of an autonomous division. … We hope this will happen soon,” said religious police chief Abdul Lateef al Sheikh, according to Emirates 24/7, which cited a local Arabic newspaper.
The police enforce the conservative Gulf monarchy’s strict Islamic laws, which include how to dress, not allowing unrelated men and women to socialize, and not allowing other religions besides Islam. They are considered the most influential police force in the country.
Sheikh said the women police would be sent to areas that only have females, but he did not elaborate on the specifics, including when the plan would be implemented.
The BBC reported that the move to include women in the police force might be part of King Abdullah’s reformist plan.
Last year, the king announced that women would have the right to vote and also run in future municipal elections.
Sheikh said the king “strongly believes in giving women their full rights,” according to Emirates 24/7.
The religious police recently came under fire after an officer told a young woman to leave a mall due to her makeup, and a mobile phone video of the incident was uploaded to the Internet.
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