from the guardian
26 may 2010
In the past month, there have been two incidents where Saudi women, when questioned or harassed by the notorious "morality police" from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, have lashed out – literally.
In the first incident, according to the Saudi Gazette, a young couple "appeared to be acting in an inappropriate manner" in an amusement park. A commission member who spotted them suspected they were not married or related and were therefore breaking the law. As the commission member approached them, the young man collapsed – presumably out of shock or fright – but the woman showered him with punches. He was taken to a medical centre to be treated for bruises. In the second incident, which the LA Times calls an unprecedented outburst, a woman caught in "illegal seclusion" with a man shot at the religious police when questioned.
The religious police, or mutawwa (loosely translated as "volunteers", as in the past the role was largely an unpaid one performed by over-zealous busybodies) regularly roam public spaces in the kingdom to ensure that women are appropriately covered, that shops are shut at prayer times, and that as few adult males as possible are absent from the mosque when the call to prayer is announced.