Saudi woman fights back against religious police

An officer of the Saudi religious police, patrolling an amusement park in the eastern city of al-Mubarraz for unmarried couples illegally socializing, met physical resistance after he stopped a young couple walking together. The officer of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice—known locally as the Hai’a—asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another. For unknown reasons, the young man collapsed upon being questioned by the cop. According to the Saudi daily Okaz, the woman then laid into the officer, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be hospitalized with bruises across his body and face.

Neither the Hai’a nor the Eastern Province police have made a statement on the incident, and neither the names of the couple or the date of the incident have been made public. But the incident has been widely reported in the Saudi media. Should the woman be charged, she could face a lengthy prison term and lashings.

“To see resistance from a woman means a lot,” Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women’s rights activist told The Media Line. “People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.” (The Media Line, May 17)

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