Washington: Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and their agents, commonly known as the ‘religious police’, have introduced ‘mobile mosques’ oriented toward Mecca to allow crazed footie fans to pray in World Cup cafes.
The ‘mobile mosques’ are specially designed trucks, equipped with faucets for ritual washing and microphones mounted for the preaching imams.
According to ABC News, the World Cup is as popular in Muslim countries as in other parts of the world, therefore, the commission has come up with an innovative idea of ‘mobile mosques’, which brings prayers to throngs of soccer fans so that they don’t avoid the obligatory sunset prayer because of the match.
Analysts have described it as a sharp change and a lighter touch for Saudi Arabia`s religious police, an ultra-strict corps infamous for harassing women and flogging those accused of immoral behavior.
ABC News stated that over the past ten years, as reform has slowly rolled through the conservative country, the powers of the religious police have largely been curbed, they can no longer make arrests without the presence of a civil officer, and the ‘mobile mosques’ are a sign the religious police are operating under the new norms.
"They are trying to adjust to the new realities, and finding creative ways so that they don`t miss the train," Dr May Al Dabbagh, an expert on Saudi Arabia at the Dubai School of Government, said.
"The debate about the role of the religious police has changed. The diversity of opinions about what they ought to do or ought not to do, what kind of privileges they should have has reached the highest levels, from the Shura Council to the Internet chat room. It`s definitely a good thing," he added.