The Saudi religious police issued a rare apology on Tuesday for beating up a British citizen in a supermarket in the capital Riyadh, Reuters reports.
The Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice said it was re-assigning four of its staff to administrative duty after a video emerged over the weekend of the men in a confrontation with the foreign resident.
The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), a.k.a. Haia, is the Saudi government “religious police” or mutaween, empowered to enforce Sharia Law in the kingdom.
The 3, 500-4, 000 religious police members patrol the streets enforcing dress codes, strict separation of men and women, prayer during prayer times, and any other behavior it believes is commanded by Islam.
They are empowered to detain and berate offenders and shut down businesses. Untilthe reforms of 2007, they were armed with thin wooden canes to strike miscreants.
The British citizen, who has not been identified, was in a women-only checkout aisle at a supermarket on Friday, when the officers approached him, a dispute erupted, and it became an assault on the man and his Saudi wife.
“The commission apologizes to the resident and his wife, ” the body said in a statement, saying the officers had overstepped their authority in attacking the couple without an order from their superior.
Public mixing of the sexes is discouraged in Saudi Arabia.