Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 19:05 pm (KSA) 16:05 pm (GMT)

Saudi claims religious police beat brother to death

Mounting criticism of Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious police picked up steam this week, with a Saudi citizen accusing a one of its divisions of beating his brother to death and the Riyadh police department opening a criminal investigation into the allegations, press reports said on Saturday.

“A group of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice broke into my family’s house at al-Urayjaa neighborhood last Wednesday evening. They brought down some doors and arrested my brother Salman,” Ali al-Huraysi told Saudi daily al-Watan Saturday.

“They arrested some other family members, including women, accusing them of selling alcohol. They then started beating my brother at the Commission’s headquarters. They beat him to death while our father was looking.”

Riyadh Police spokesman said investigations were underway to verify the allegations and uncover the cause of Salman’s death.

The assistant director-general of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the Riyadh Province told the daily that “somebody died and investigations are underway."

He refused to comment on al-Huraysi’s accusations that Commission members beat his brother to death, referring the whole case to the Riyadh Police Department.

It was the second serious accusation the highly influential group that serves as a kind of Islamic vice squad has faced recently.

Weeks ago, a Saudi woman filed a complaint to the Complaints’ Authority, accusing two of the Commission’s members of violating her and her daughter’s rights.

The mother claimed the two members stopped her and her daughter at a shopping mall in Riyadh and accused her of not wearing the veil properly. They then ordered her driver out of the car and drove it themselves to the Commission’s headquarters.

The car broke down and the two men left the woman and her daughter at the side of the road in the broken car and went on their way, according to the woman’s complaint that received widespread coverage in the Saudi press.

She is seeking a financial compensation for “the damages” she suffered. The case would be looked into July 2.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice enjoys huge powers in the conservative Saudi society and criticism to its authority and actions have long been a taboo.

But that seems to be gradually changing, with Saudi media giving wider windows each time for people complaining about misconduct of the religious police.

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