Women's Rights

Saudis Rein-In Feared Religious Police

The country plunges boldly into the 13th century


Saudi Arabia is to limit the power of its notorious religious police, raising hopes that draconian social controls will be eased in the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom.

 After years of complaints of humiliation and abuse, particularly from women, the all-male agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice could be emasculated by the reforms.

Sheikh Abdullatiff Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, the head of the force, said that its authority to arrest and question suspects would be transferrred to regular police officers, while it also would be unable to carry out raids on homes without prior and higher approval.