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Shoura vote could see Saudi religious police lose autonomy

Shoura vote could see Saudi religious police lose autonomy

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had its powers curbed last year

Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council will reportedly vote next Monday on a proposal to merge the country’s religious police force with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.

Saudi Gazette cited council sources as confirming the proposal, which if successful could see the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) lose its autonomy.

This follows the curbing of the commission’s powers by the cabinet last year that meant it is no longer allowed to pursue, question, request identification from or arrest suspects.

Atta Al-Thibaiti, one of three members behind the proposal, said the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is an Islamic duty and Shariah law does not require a specialist or independent body to carry it out.

The members said merging the commission with the ministry would be in line with government efforts to merge some bodies to cut costs.

The religious police could also improve performance at the ministry and save resources, they argued.

Other members of the council do not appear to support the plan, which was rejected by the Islamic and judicial affairs committee.

The reducing of the CPVPV’s powers in 2016 followed several high-profile car chases resulting in fatal accidents and controversy after members were recorded beating a young woman outside of a mall in Riyadh.

Read: Saudi cabinet curbs powers of religious police

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to promote a more progressive image of the kingdom under his Vision 2030 reform efforts, which have included the establishment of an entertainment body.

Read: Key new regulations implemented under Saudi’s new Crown Prince

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