“Saudi Arabia has stripped its frequently criticized religious police of their powers to arrest, urging them to act “kindly and gently” in enforcing Islamic rules. Some Saudis called the move long overdue. Under changes approved by the cabinet, religious officers will no longer be allowed to detain people and instead must report violators to police or drug squad officers, the official Saudi Press Agency said late Tuesday. Officers of the Haia force, also known as the Mutawaa, must “carry out the duties of encouraging virtue and forbidding vice by advising kindly and gently” under the new rules, SPA reported. “Neither the heads nor members of the Haia are to stop or arrest or chase people or ask for their IDs or follow them – that is considered the jurisdiction of the police or the drug unit,” the regulations say”.
A weakened Saudi religious police