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Saudi religious police to get firearms 8, June 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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A new study recommends that the Saudi religious police ought to be given extra training as well as firearms to protect themselves from the increasing number of attacks to which they have been subjected in the past few years. Somehow the study estimated that “82 percent of the members of all commission branches are incapable of defending themselves against assault during their fieldwork”. How they arrived at such a statistic and indeed what that statistic even means is unclear.

The apparent goal of these recommendations is to put an end to the “behavioral chaos within the Saudi society.” However, this is just looking at one side of the argument. If the religious police were being assaulted simply as they walk down the street, or something of this nature, then of course action would be needed to be taken. Yet surely the vast majority of cases of violence ensue from their actions as a starting point? Childishly put: they start it.

The general argument as to why attacks have gone up recently stems from a belief that Saudi society is getting less and less tolerant of the officious interference that that the police have in every day life. Thus whilst the police may well be performing the same actions as they were, for example, ten years ago, these actions are eliciting a different response. They could well argue that the ever extending and ever increasing reach of Western culture into Saudi society causes if not mandates that they – the police – act more to counter what they perceive to be increasing licentious behaviour. However, no matter the degree that this may or indeed may not be true, the fact remains that the Saudi population are changing and showing less adherence and less respect towards the police.

Their answer is to enable the police to defend themselves, which does not seen that unreasonable. Yet at the same time, there is no examination of the pertinence of the laws that they are enforcing or the way that they are doing so on modern day Saudi society. Obviously, some kind of far reaching overhaul of Saudi law is, to say the least, unlikely. Yet, the solution posed by the study is simply guaranteed to cause further problems and resentment between the two groups involved. Perhaps a dialogue would be a more fruitful and all together safer way to proceed. I doubt very much if by carrying firearms the religious police will suddenly be able to turn back to clock to the ‘good old days’ whenever they perceive them to have been.