ABU DHABI Ñ Saudi clerics appear alarmed by the increased attacks on
Leading clerics have appealed to Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Aziz to
bolster support for the religious police in wake of street fights in several
cities as well as attacks in the kingdom-controlled media. The clerics met
with Saudi leaders and appealed to them to increase enforcement of Islamic
The religious police, termed the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and
Prevention of Vice, has been termed brutal by leading Saudi columnists. In
2002, the police were blamed for the death of 15 female students who were
prevented from leaving a burning building because they were deemed as
Over the last month, Saudi journalists and witnesses have described
arrests by religious police of married couples who were strolling in Saudi
cities, Middle East Newsline reported.
In September, religious police and bystanders clashed as officers
tried to arrest young pedestrians.
Last week, the governor of Mecca, Prince Abdul Majid, was called on to
replace many of the religious police officers at the Grand Mosque. The
is the site of pilgrimage for millions of Muslims every year.
Columnist Hissah Al Oun described the beatings of elderly women by
religious police who patrolled the mosque. Al Oun said the Saudi and foreign
pilgrims had been trying to find a seat closer to the house of worship when
they were attacked.
"The soldiers began kicking the women in their stomachs," Al Oun wrote.
"Some fell down with their belongings scattered in all directions. Some of
the soldiers even used their hands to push the women, an act that Islam