Saudi Arabia’s Islamic police moved four of its members out of the capital and confined them to office work after finding them guilty of assaulting a Briton and his Saudi wife at a shopping mall, newspapers in the conservative Gulf Kingdom said on Wednesday.
The papers quoted the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice as saying in a statement that a committee formed by the chairman to probe the incident at the mall in the capital Riyadh blamed the four for the scuffle.
Newspapers earlier quoted the man’s wife as saying she was shopping with her husband Peter Howard at the mall in the capital when they were intercepted by Commission members as he came close to the female cashier.
His wife, Abeer, told them that she and her husband had been asked by the hypermarket manager to pay at that cash point, but they did not listen.
She said they threatened her husband and waited for him outside, where they attacked him
On Monday, the papers ran a YouTube film showing a Commission member jumping over a car and attacking the Briton as a large crowd tried to stop him.
The papers quoted the Commission’s chairman Abdul Lateef Al Shaikh as saying he had ordered the formation of a committee to probe the incident.
“The committee found that one member made a mistake by jumping at the foreign man. The four members also interfered in a matter which is not within their authorisation.
“They should have not stopped the foreign man from standing in the section assigned for families as this issue is within the powers of the shopping mall management and security there,” the Commission said.
It said the four Commission members made another mistake when they resorted to force and “escalation” against the man since he was with his wife, adding that they could have recorded his car number and made a report to their chiefs.
“The Commission affirms again that it does not accept any of its members being attacked, but it also does not accept any of its members attacking any citizen or expatriate who are all protected by the country’s laws,” it said.
“For this reason, the Chairman has decided to transfer the four outside Riyadh and confine them to office rather than field work.
“The Commission would like to apologise to the foreigner and his wife and reassure all that what those Commission members did was an individual behavior that does not reflect the activities and policies of the Chairman and the Commission.”
Assault was over 'female cashier'
Saudi Arabia’s religious police assaulted a Briton and his Saudi wife after he tried to pay through a female cashier at a supermarket in the Gulf Kingdom.
Peter Howard was with his wife shopping at the hypermarket in the capital Riyadh when he was intercepted by three men as he came close to the female casher.
His wife, Abeer, told them that she and her husband had been asked by the hypermarket manager to pay at that point but the three men did not listen.
“They threatened my husband and told him that they would wait for him outside… when we stepped out of the mall, they tried to photograph my husband’s car,” she said, quoted by the Saudi Rotana TV channel.
“My husband then tried to photograph them but they went mad… they then jumped on him and beat him up in a brutal way.”
Saudi newspapers on Monday ran a YouTube film showing a member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice jumping over a car and attacking the British man as a large crowd tried to stop him.
The papers quoted the Commission’s Chairman Abdul Lateef Al Shaikh as saying he had ordered the formation of a committee to probe the incident.
“We will announce the outcome of the investigation soon. If the committee finds that it was the fault of the Commission member, then we will take stringent measures again him…..we will not accept that any foreigner living in the Kingdom is harmed,” he said.