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| 20 September, 2017

Proposal to dilute Saudi religious police powers put to Shura

Members of Saudi Arabia's Shura (Consultative) Council meet at their headquarters in Riyadh February 7, 2005.
REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim
Image used for illustrative purpose

Members of Saudi Arabia's Shura (Consultative) Council meet at their headquarters in Riyadh February 7, 2005. REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim Image used for illustrative purpose

REUTERS/Reuters Photographer

Shura member says there is much overlap in tasks of religious police and Islamic Affairs Ministry

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council will next week debate a proposal to integrate the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

“We successfully convinced the competent side within the Shura Council to take up the proposal and submit it for a general debate after the concerned Shura committee turned it down,” Shura member Atta Al Sabiti said.

“We believe that the best option is to place the commission under the ministry because its tasks are very close and similar to what departments within the ministry are doing,” he said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Tuesday.

The move would become official after the Shura Council approves it and King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz endorses it, he added.

Al Sabiti said the proposal, in case it is approved, would also be beneficial for the state budget since it would avoid double work and consequently reduce expenses.

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The Commission, often described as the morals police, used to be among the most powerful institutions in Saudi Arabia and enjoyed immense power.

However, reports that the commission failed to deal with some situations professionally repeatedly prompted harsh criticism on social media. In April, the Saudi cabinet clipped its powers and limited its prerogatives, including the right to arrest people or to chase them in vehicles.

The Shura Council is made up of 150 members, including 30 women, who advice on the policy to be taken by Saudi Arabia.

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