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article imageSaudi woman sues the moral police

By kurtrat     May 12, 2007 in World
A Saudi civil court is getting ready to hear the first ever case brought against the religious police, known as the Muttawa.
The unnamed woman wants compensation after she and her daughter were allegedly wrongfully arrested in a car park of a shopping center in 2004 for "not wearing decent clothing," her lawyer, Abderraham al-Lahm, said.
According to al-Lahm, the religious police arrested the two women, took the car from their driver (women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia) and drove them to headquarters. There, the mother, who was already ill, had "health complications."
In Saudi Arabia, women must be completely covered, from head to toe, when they are in public.
The woman's family is taking the case to a civil court in Riyadh on Sunday, after an Islamic court rejected the complaint, saying that "a member of the religious police cannot be judged."
Al-Lahm hopes this case will help "consolidate the role of justice in defending individual freedoms and human rights."
Last month, al-Watan, a Saudi Arabian newspaper, reported that assaults on the religious police by the public were increasing. The special force for "the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice" consists of 5,000 members. The Muttawa has been in existence for several decades. But there have been some changes in Saudi society since its inception.
"The interior ministry issued a decree in May 2006 aimed at reining in the religious police by requiring them not to interrogate detained suspects, as they had previously done, but to hand them over to the regular police instead."
Of course if the Muttawa is considered to be above the law, as the Islamic court ruled, al-Lahm has a difficult case ahead of him.
I know that in popular culture, American women are portrayed as being very concerned about what they wear in public; however, at least they generally will not face arrest because of what they wear.
With the extremely strict moral code in place for women in Saudi Arabia, it will be interesting to see what happens with this case.
More about Saudi woman, Moral police, Muttawa
 
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