Saudi minister defends under fire vice police


Prince Nayef insisted there was no question of Saudi Arabia’s appointed consultative council withdrawing its support from the so-called Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, addressing reporters after a nearly three-hour meeting of the council.



"You should know that the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is one of the pillars of Islam," the visibly angry prince told journalists.



"If we are Muslims, we should accept that. If we’re not, well that’s another matter.



"I just want to say that the Commission (the vice police) is being targeted, particularly by journalists, who are exaggerating a few tiny shortcomings."



The vice police, also known as the Muttawa, have been the subject of a series of scandals in recent weeks.



Last month, a member of the vice police was accused by Riyadh municipality of causing the death of a man during a raid on his home.



The trial of four Muttawa officers over the death of a man in their custody in the northwestern city of Tabuk was also due to begin last month, but was adjourned to an unknown date due to incomplete legal documents.



The Muttawa have also faced investigation in the Mecca region after an Asian woman fell to her death from the fourth floor of a building that was stormed by religious police in May.



The abuse allegations prompted one consultative council member, Khalil al-Khalil, to say ahead of the meeting that the council would withdraw its support.



"It is impossible for the council to withdraw its support from the Commission," retorted the prince.



"The Commission has the support of all state organizations, including the (consultative council).



"I am astonished that a council member can make such a statement."


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