The Future Is Bright In Saudi Arabia
Saudi Interior Minister said there was no question of the morality police, charged with upholding morals in the conservative monarchy, being dissolved. Asked about calls in Western media for the religious police to be disbanded, the minister said: "They talk about an organ that promotes the good and prevents the bad. Its dissolution has been rejected in the past, it is rejected today, and it will be rejected tomorrow." The 4,000-strong force known as Mutawas, many of them men in long beards, commonly go around malls, restaurants and other public spaces to make sure men and women not related by blood do not mix. They usually intervene if they spot any public display of affection between the sexes or see anyone they deem indecently dressed. In most parts of the kingdom this means no shorts for men and the abaya, a mandatory black head-to-toe cloak, for women. The Mutawas also enforce the kingdom's ban on women drivers and the public practice of religions other than Islam.