50 detained in Saudi Arabia over necklaces, haircuts
The suspects were detained during a Ramazan crackdown in the western Saudi city of Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, according to Saudi news website Sabq.
“They were handed over to the department of criminal investigations,” said Sabq, which accompanied investigators during their visits to shopping areas in the city.
Officers noticed “a number of offences like strange haircuts, chains that are hung upon the chest or arms, head wraps and short clothes and immodest ones — for both men and women,” reported Sabq, which is close to the authorities.
The law enforcement team, which included women, advised citizens against “habits and traditions that are against religious teachings.”
The holy month of Ramazan which ends in early July, is one of the religion’s five pillars. During Ramazan the faithful must devote themselves to piety and charity as well as compassion and generosity.
Saudi Arabia, an absolute Islamic monarchy, is one of the world’s most conservative countries. Women dress from head to toe in black and are not allowed to drive or mingle with unrelated men.
But more than half of Saudi citizens are under the age of 25, an Internet-savvy generation that spends much of its life online away from official strictures.
One of the kingdom’s most powerful figures, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 30, is leading the Vision 2030 reform drive to diversify the economy and also bring social change.
The plan calls for more entertainment, cultural and sports opportunities. In April, cabinet stripped the frequently criticised religious police of their powers to arrest.
Members of the Haia force, among whose duties was to monitor people’s dress, can now only offer advice. They must report violators to regular police officers for followup.