Under the plan approved by Saudi King Abdullah, the religious police, religious police, formally the
Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Saudi
Arabia, was granted expanded power, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the
would monitor Internet traffic as well as the use of cellular phones.
Officials said 375 officers would be trained in technology and Internet
Since assuming the throne in 2005, Abdullah has strengthened the
religious police. This has included increasing the force from about 5,000 to
more than 10,000 members.
In March 2007, Riyad approved a law that banned hacking and unauthorized
photography from cellular phones. The law set a one-year prison sentence and
a fine of 500,000 Saudi riyals, or $133,000.
The legislation stemmed from complaints by prominent Saudis of the use
of cellular phones to illicitly photograph women in public places. At one
point, photographs of Saudi women in toilets or in dressing rooms were
posted on the Internet.
In 2004, the religious police launched a campaign against cellular
camera phones. At one point, the kingdom banned the import of these devices.
In an interview with the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat daily, Tuwaijri
outlined the commission's plan to combat technology deemed offensive to
Islam. He said religious police would monitor the purchase of goods regarded
as obscene or blasphemous.
Tuwaijri said religious police would also learn English and other
languages to navigate the Internet and deal with foreigners. He said
officers must learn to identify sacrilegious products.
"There are commercial goods that could cause offense to religions such
as those that are contemptuous towards God or anything that Muslims deem
sacred, or that contain phrases against Islam," Tuwaijri said. "There are
goods that bear indecent phrases or pictures or that promote vice."