Saudi recruits women to seize foreign 'raqis'

Move followed government decision to ban non-Saudi raqis

Saudi Arabia, departing from a long-standing policy, is now recruiting women to help seize foreigners involved in spiritual treatment activities dubbed as Roqaya following a government decision to ban expatriates from this practice, a newspaper in the conservative Muslim Gulf Kingdom said on Saturday.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the country’s feared religious police, said it would start sending undercover female detectives to pose as customers for raqis, who use Koran verses and incense in their treatment, so they can be captured red handed.

It said female recruits would target only raqis suspected of using such practices in molesting women and other indecent acts.

According to the Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah, the Commission has formed a joint committee with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to supervise roqaya activities in the world’s oil superpower following a surge in such practices by Saudis and expatriates and reports of fraud by many of them.

“The committee will start sending female recruits to detect what those raqis do during the presumed treatment sessions for women,” it said.

“The move followed a decision by the committee to ban any expatriate from practising roqaya…expatriates caught doing so will be prosecuted and deported from the country,” it added, quoting Commission sources.

In a virulent attack on raqis, Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim cleric branded some of them thieves who just want to “rob people and seek quick wealth.”

“Some of those raqis and dream interpreters are only sowing the seeds of sedition among the people…they try to mislead persons that they are under a magic spell so they can swindle their money,” Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh, the Kingdom’s mufti, told preachers during Friday’s open-air prayers.

“Keep away from these impostors who have nothing to do with Islam…if you have any problem, you can do roqaya yourself by reading verses from the holy Koran and seeking help from God the Almighty.”

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