No return to previous powers of Saudi religious police

Updated 14 May 2017
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No return to previous powers of Saudi religious police

JEDDAH: There will be no return to the previous powers of the religious police, which were regulated last year by a Cabinet decree, an expert with in-depth knowledge of Saudi governmental affairs told Arab News.
The source was speaking in response to an inquiry relating to an active hashtag created by some social media users propagating inaccurate news that the religious police’s powers would be restored in full.
“The story is related to a statement attributed to the religious police official spokesperson, Turki Al-Shalil, which said there’s a soon-to-be announced project to improve and enhance the force’s field operation,” the expert said.
“We always knew the religious police field operations required improvement and enhancement. There’s nothing new there as the guidelines that were announced last year were targeted to end the violations and curb the powers of this body so they revert to their original brief of guiding and assisting people, not arresting or interrogating them, which isn’t their responsibility,” he added.
“More importantly, the religious police reform and governing guidelines were announced last year by a Cabinet decree, and anyone who knows anything about how governments work will tell you that a Cabinet decree can only be undone by another Cabinet decree, and there have been no such new decrees announced.”
In April last year, the government barred the religious police from pursuing suspects or making arrests.
“Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, or the religious police, will not be allowed to pursue, question, request identification from, or arrest, suspects,” said a Cabinet statement in April last year.
“Members must instead report suspected crimes to the police or drug authorities, who will carry out law enforcement actions. Members are now also required to show identity cards while carrying out official duties,” the statement said.


Riyadh bird market closed after duck found with avian flu

Updated 20 July 2018
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Riyadh bird market closed after duck found with avian flu

  • Azizia Bird Market shutdown after duck was found to be carrying H5N8 avian flu
  • Bird and poultry keepers warned not to go to Azizia bird market until clearance work has been completed on the site

JEDDAH: Azizia Bird Market in Riyadh has been closed after a duck was found to be carrying H5N8 avian flu during ongoing inspections of poultry markets in the Kingdom, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced on Friday.
Ministry spokesman Dr. Abdullah Abalkhail told Arab News that action was taken immediately after the bird was found to be infected.
Ducks carry the virus, but do not display symptoms of the infection.
As well as closing the market, the authorities have prevented the movement of birds in the market, and followed directions from Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, Acting Governor of Riyadh Region, to dispose of the birds safely and efficiently.
A contingency plan for dealing with cases of bird flu was applied by the Ministry’s branch in Riyadh, in cooperation with the security authorities, Riyadh Municipality, Riyadh Health Affairs Directorate, and the Ministry of Finance.
Abalkhail stressed that the Ministry, in cooperation with the relevant government sectors, has managed to stop the disease from spreading.
To date, there have been no human cases of H5N8 in the Kingdom. The last case of avian flu was recorded in the Kingdom on April 17 this year.
Abalkhail warned bird and poultry keepers not to go to Azizia bird market until clearance work has been completed on the site in order to protect their birds from infection.
Avian flu spreads rapidly among birds. He urged the public to report any suspected cases by calling the emergency number 8002470000.