DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Saudi Arabia has issued new guidelines to define and curtail powers of the kingdom's religious police.
Its members, known as Mutawas, are not allowed to chase people down the street or demand to see a person's ID. The force is tasked with ensuring people observe the kingdom's ultraconservative Islamic codes but has been criticized for its sometimes intrusive tactics.
The guidelines, approved by the Cabinet and published Tuesday, say members of the force also cannot entrap or arrest, which is exclusively the jurisdiction of the police.
The semiautonomous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — as the force is also known — patrols parks, streets and malls, combats drug use, bars unrelated men and women from mingling in public and ensures stores close for daily prayers.