Saudi Moral Police Arrest Male for Sitting With Wife

From Arab News:
JEDDAH: Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) in Riyadh’s Rawdah district briefly detained a Japanese professor and his wife while presenting a cultural program in a mall in the city, a local daily reported on Friday. The Haia’s attention was drawn to the seating arrangement for the event where women sat in an area sectioned off for men because there was a better view of the presentation.

The religious police also said they were not informed that a presentation of such kind would be taking place. “They should contact these departments including the governorate to get permission,” Haia spokesman in Riyadh Turki Al-Shulail told Al-Watan Arabic daily in a report published on Friday.

“The governorate will then inform the commission that it has given consent to organize the program, because we have been given the mandate to monitor such events to prevent wrong practices.” The arrest took place while the married couple was presenting a cultural exchange program on behalf of Sakura Almamlakh, a Saudi group that works to promote Saudi-Japanese cultural exchanges.

Sakura Almamlakh Director Abdul Rahman Al-Osaimi said the Haia held the Japanese man, a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, and his wife for an hour on Thursday. “The commission officials seized mobile phones of the group’s members,” he added.

He said the management of the commercial center had made seating arrangement for women on the second floor, but some chose to sit in the men’s section because of the better view of the stage.

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