British man and Saudi wife attacked by religious police in Riyadh
A British man and his Saudi wife were attacked by members of the religious police, officially known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, outside one of the premier malls in Riyadh on Saturday, Al-Hayat daily said.
The members pounced on the car, in which the Briton and his wife had gotten into for protection, rapped on the window glass and asked him to step out of the car.
This was after an argument and fisticuff, which the Briton and his wife tried to escape by locking themselves up in the car.
A short video, not exceeding 10 seconds, went viral Sunday morning in the social networking websites. It showed a religious police member jumping from the top of a vehicle on the Briton, who was with his wife.
The woman defended her husband by fighting back with the religious police member. The clip shows, the Briton shouting: “This is my wife.”
Eyewitnesses told Al-Hayat that the victim named Peter Haworth was in one of the malls with his wife when several members of the religious police started pursuing him till the cashier’s counter, which was manned by a Saudi woman.
They asked him why he chose that specific counter. He replied: “My wife is with me.”
He paid for his purchase and was walking out of the mall when an altercation between him and religious police members took place.
The religious police members then took pictures of the Briton and his car. He did the same and took their pictures and that of their vehicle.
They then demanded that he hand over his camera, but he refused. He was then attacked and he fell to the ground.
He got up but was surprised by another religious police member jumping on him. His wife entered the fray and tried to protect him.
The eyewitnesses said that he and his wife ran into their car and locked all the doors. But the commission members surrounded him and started hitting the car’s glass asking him to get out of the car.
He called the police and in few minutes some officers arrived at the scene but left after they saw the religious police members without asking him what was going on.
A source told Al-Hayat that the British Embassy sent him a mission vehicle, which took him home and stood guard near his house and left later at night. Then the police called him and asked him what happened.
They also questioned eyewitnesses and obtained the photos captured by the surveillance cameras on the street.
An anonymous source told Al-Hayat said Haworth will meet Riyadh Emir Prince Turki Bin Abdullah and religious police Chief Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh.
Religious police spokesman Turki Al-Shelayel ordered a committee be formed to investigate the members involved to get to the bottom of the incident. Al-Shelayel said proper procedures will be taken to grant the rights of all parties involved.
Many Saudis condemned this attack on Twitter.
Haworth is a Muslim married to a Saudi woman and both have been living in Riyadh for few years. He has an established business “Smile Productions” in Riyadh.