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The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is the formal name of the muttawwa or mutaween or religious police of Saudi Arabia. They have been known to sentence young men to lashings for harassing girls in the marketplace. CNN.com reports that the "mutaween roam the streets of the conservative kingdom wielding sticks to enforce dress codes and sex segregation and to ensure prayers are performed on time." (1) They also prevented schoolgirls from leaving a burning building in Mecca because they "were not wearing correct Islamic dress". (2) This police force had also stopped men who wanted to help save the girls. These men were told it was sinful to approach the girls. Omar A. Bahlaiwa, Assistant Secretary General for Foreign Affairs in the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry says "Don't judge Saudi Arabia by the colour of your abaya."

(1) europe.cnn.com. CNN.com
19 Mar 2002. http://europe.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/03/14/saudi.fire.reut/

(2) bbc.co.uk. The BBC
19 Mar 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1874000/1874471.stm

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