RIYADH – Single men have been granted permission to enter malls and shopping centers but anyone found harassing women shoppers will be referred to the Shariah Court, according to a recent directive issued by Dr. Abdullatif Aal Al-Sheikh, General President of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Hai’a).
“I gave instructions to the field members of the Hai’a to closely monitor markets and not to be lenient with anyone who harasses families and women. I instructed them to hand those guilty of harassment over to the Shariah Court immediately,” Dr. Aal Al-Sheikh was quoted as saying in a section of the Arabic press Thursday.
Last week a directive issued by Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz, Emir of Riyadh region, allowed single men to enter shopping centers and malls in the capital on the condition that they do not misbehave with women shoppers and follow security regulations.
Previously, single men were only allowed into shopping centers at lunch time on weekdays, a move the authorities said was intended to prevent women being harassed during peak hours.
Managers of shopping centers and malls had banned single men from entering their premises to avoid unruly scenes.
The Emir’s directive was based on the recommendation of a tripartite committee which found that the ban had a negative impact as youths gathered outside the malls who often harassed women shoppers.
Dr. Aal Al-Sheikh has clarified that the Hai’a did not impose any such ban on the youth. – SG