Saudi Shoura studying plan to merge religious police into Islamic Ministry

Updated 20 September 2017

Saudi Shoura studying plan to merge religious police into Islamic Ministry

RIYADH: The Shoura Council is currently studying a major proposal to merge the religious police, officially known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, into the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
The plan is widely seen as a move to redesign and redefine the role of the religious police, as also to curb its powers further.
“This is not a plan or proposal from the Saudi government; rather, it is a proposal put forward by three members of the Shoura Council,” said Mohammad Al-Khunaizi, a Shoura member, on Tuesday. He said: “The Shoura Council is currently studying the merger proposal, while seeking the opinion of the members on this subject.”
Al-Khunaizi could neither confirm nor deny the fact that the proposal of merger of the commission into the Ministry of Islamic Affairs will go for voting next week. But, a Reuters report said: “The Shoura Council, an influential advisory body to the government, will vote on the proposal to merge the religious police into the Ministry of Islamic affairs, further curbing the force’s authority, next week.”
The report has quoted Atta Al-Thibaiti, a Shoura member, as saying the proposal had overcome initial opposition by the Shoura’s Committee on Islamic and Judicial Affairs.
The religious police, which have had the mandate to implement Islamic laws and better social ethics, patrol public spaces to enforce bans on alcohol, obscenity, abnormal behavior, store closures during prayer times, and the mixing of unrelated men and women. It also imposes strict modesty requirements on women’s dress, as well as on men, especially youngsters chasing women and philandering.


Riyadh ‘Peace Declaration’ seen as game-changer for stability in Sudan

Updated 31 min 42 sec ago

Riyadh ‘Peace Declaration’ seen as game-changer for stability in Sudan

JEDDAH: As chair of the Friends of Sudan group, Saudi Arabia has called for an inclusive sustainable peace process for the country, the Kingdom’s envoy to Khartoum told Arab News.
Participants at the 8th Friends of Sudan meeting, convened via video conference on Wednesday, seized the opportunity to reaffirm their full commitment to Sudan’s Transitional Government in developing an inclusive and sustainable peace plan and economic reform program.
The group, chaired by Saudi Arabia, was represented by the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan. Along with their international partners, through the Riyadh Friends of Sudan meeting, expressing their full confidence in the civilian-led transition under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Abdullah Hamdok as they continue to prioritize a comprehensive and inclusive peace plan despite unforeseen challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kingdom’s Ambassador to Sudan Ali bin Hassan Jafar, told Arab News that the meeting comes at a crucial time for the group and is the first to discuss the peace process at length.
In recognition of its mediation role, Saudi Arabia invited representatives of the government of South Sudan as honorary guests to attend the meeting for the first time following their constructive role in the Juba peace talks.
The high-level representation, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of South Sudan, Ambassador Beatrice Khamisa Wani, and Chairman of South Sudan Government Committee for Peace Mediation in Sudan Tut Galuak, are a recognition for their role in advancing the Juba Peace Talks negotiations in good faith.
The Friends of Sudan welcomed the participation of the Sudan Revolutionary Front and the Sudan Liberation Movement in the meeting, recognized by the group as a sign of their goodwill and commitment and constructive engagement with the international community to work with Sudan’s Transitional Government to achieve sustainability and peace in their country.
“Great efforts have been made by Saudi Arabia with the help of its international partners at the Friends of Sudan meeting to call on all parties involved to come back to the negotiating table, appealing to them to realize the historic opportunity to reach consensus for sustainable peace talks that will ensure unity, stability and prosperity of Sudan,” said the ambassador.
The Friends of Sudan was established in 2018 as an informal group, and includes countries and organizations committed to joint action to provide support to the transitional government in the country.
Representatives attended the meetings and discussed the best means to coordinate support and work with Sudan’s transitional government to reach economic stability, prosperity and sustainable peace in the country’s critical time.
“The meeting served as a first achievement in the Friends of Sudan group, reaffirming their commitment to helping Sudan sustainable peace. Under Saudi Arabia’s initiative, the group issued the Riyadh declaration ‘Partners for Sustainable Peace in Sudan,” added the ambassador.
The declaration commended the resolution and resolve of most of the outstanding issues during the Juba Peace Talks, said the ambassador.
The road ahead will be challenging, the envoy added.
The Partners for Sustainable Peace in Sudan Declaration (Peace Declaration) expressed their concern that a number of parties remain outside the peace process. The ‘Peace Deceleration’ called on all parties to the conflict to engage in good faith in the peace process and refrain from counterproductive demands, cautioning that all spoilers to the peace process or the implementation of the Political Agreement and Constitutional Charter of Aug. 17, 2019, may have consequences imposed on them.
The inclusion of women and youth in the peace process and the transitional government was also stressed in the meeting.
The declaration reaffirms the group’s commitment and will to remain engaged and assist Sudan’s Transitional Government. Any obstruction to the peace process will prolong the suffering of the Sudanese people, the partners said.
As the world is a financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Friends of Sudan group urged in the meeting that parties to the peace talks be aware of Sudan’s economic challenges, prioritize demands that reflect the understanding and appreciation to these challenges and collaborate to find mutual and agreeable solutions.