Officials said the memo was relayed by the president of the commission,
Abdul Aziz Al Humain. They said the religious police force was expanding
from 5,000 to 10,000 officers, who were receiving additional training and
"The commission, given its responsibility to Islamic law, would stand
against such trends," the memo said.
A commission spokesman did not say when the religious police would
expand their duties. On March 6, the spokesman, Abdul Mohsen, Al Qaffari,
said the force has already received orders from Al Humain to prepare for
such an assignment.
The religious police, said to be strongly supported by Saudi Deputy
Prime Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz, have been regarded as the most
despised element of the Saudi regime. Protests have erupted over religious
police harassment of married couples or women in cars.
The orders to the religious police came ahead of opposition plans to
hold the so-called "Day of Rage," which in other Arab countries sparked
violent protests. This month, Riyad banned all demonstrations and outside
"The best way to achieve what citizens want is through dialogue whether
in the eastern, western, southern or northern regions," Saudi Foreign
Minister Saud Al Faisal said.