Head of Saudi Sex Cops sacked


King Abdullah on Saturday made sweeping changes to his government, axing the head of the religious police and appointing Saudi Arabia's first-ever woman deputy minister in the biggest shakeup since he took over the throne.

Analysts said the changes continued Abdullah's cautious modernisation of the country's arch-conservative education, legal and social environments.

The reshuffle included naming new education, justice, information and health ministers, a new leader of the consultative Shura council, new central bank chief and the appointment of a woman deputy education minister for female education affairs.

Norah al-Fayez, currently an official at the Saudi Institute for Public Administration, became the first holder of the new job, the most senior ever granted to a woman in the Muslim kingdom.

In another major change, Abdullah sacked hardliner Sheikh Ibrahim al-Ghaith, the head of the Muttawa religious police, seen by many Saudis as a force opposed to some of the liberalisations proposed under his regime.

Under Ghaith, the Muttawa, who enforce Saudi Arabia's strict-but-eroding Islamic social mores, such as complete separation of unrelated members of the opposite sexes and Saudi women shrouding themselves completely in black while in public, have been widely feared.

Ghaith was replaced by Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Humain, who quickly gave notice of changes to come.

"We will try to be close to the heart of every citizen. Their concerns are ours," Humain told Al-Arabiya news channel.

"This is a turning point. It is the biggest change that happened in this country in 20 years," Mohammad al-Zulfa, a member of the Shura council, told AFP.


It was certainly a necessary change. Ghaith and his thugs were a continuing source of embarrassment to the Saudis. They arrested a business women for having coffee at a Starbucks with a business associate. In another case they arrested an immigrant who was assisting a sickly neighbor. Perhaps their most heinous act led to the death of girl students who were not allowed to escape a fire in a dormitory because they did not have escorts or "proper" attire.

This appears to be a wise move by the Saudi King.

The BBC has more. Another of the sacked was the chief judge whose courts have embarrassed the Saudis by punishing the victims of rape and refusing to annul pedophile marriages of underage girls.


  1. Its about time that something like this happened in Saudia Arabia and i think its a pleasant change. For years and years women were subjected to the strict sharia law and could not even drive or get higher education. Islam is a relegion that has not stopped the women from getting the necessary knowledge and they can do that within the norms of islamic culture and society. I can see that in the near future democracy will spread its wing and abolish the Kingdom which has never been in par with the Islamic way of ruling because since times of Prophet Mohammed it has been the Calaphites who were chosen by the people in a democratic way. So all in all its a step towards modernization mind you not westernization which is totally a different concept.


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