Religious Police Tell Saudi Women To Stop Playing on Swings

| by Allison Geller

A picture of religious police busting a group of women on a swing set in Saudi Arabia went viral on the country's social networks.

Saudi Arabic newspapers printed the shot of officers from the country’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice—the police force tasked with keeping religious authority—stepping in after several male bystanders heckled the women for their inappropriate behavior.

The picture made a buzz on social media and was supported by some Saudis, according to Arab news sources.

“Some viewers of the picture supported the move by the Commission members on the grounds women using the swing could encourage men to harass or molest them,” wrote the Saudi Arabic language daily Al Sada.

“Others said they believe the act is not acceptable as it amounted to an unjustified interference and repression of women by the Commission.”

Emirates 24/7 also reported that the religious police shut down a restaurant that allegedly allowed the mixing of genders, prohibited in most public places under Saudi law.

“Sources said they shut the restaurant after it was found to be violating local laws, including allowing mixing between men and women, operating obscene TV channels and serving shisha in closed places,” wrote the Sabq daily newspaper.

Many Saudi women are celebrating a victory, however, with the suspension of a program that sends a text message to their male relatives when they travel outside the country. In the Gulf kingdom all women have a male guardian, who would be notified every time they crossed the border, according to the program. Many Saudi women denounced the measure as demeaning and humiliating. The system will reportedly undergo an amendment process.

Sources: Emirates 24/7, Arab News