Saudi religious police cited in death of motorist playing loud music

Special to

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia, facing continuing reports of abuse, has
again pledged to reform the religious police.

Officials said the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention
of Vice would be guided by new rules meant to prevent abuse of civilians.

Al-Watan newspaper reported that a Saudi man was killed and his wife and two children were injured when their car crashed while being pursued by religious police in Jeddah.

In July, the police were blamed for the death of a Saudi motorist in a high-speed pursuit that also injured members of his family. The police had ordered that the 34-year-old motorist turn down the music in his car.

Al A-Sheik said an investigation of the incident was conducted. Other officials said four members of the religious police were detained and
charged with abuse of power.

The officials said the 10,000-member religious police, comprised mostly of Islamic seminary students, would come under greater supervision.

“A set of procedures to govern the commission’s pursuit of people will
soon be released,” religious police director Abdul Latif Al A-Sheik said.

The religious police, meant to enforce Islamic mores, has come under
constant criticism for alleged abuse of Saudi Muslims, married couples and foreigners.

The Saudi leadership appointed Al A-Sheik in January in response to
calls to reform the religious police. The director was said to have
intensified training and banned the use of volunteers.