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Saudi religious police adopting WhatsApp

The move follows rumours that the application may be banned in the kingdom

  • By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:03 August 20, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manama: The Saudi religious police plans to adopt a controversial mobile messaging application to enhance communication with the local community.

Weeks after a claim that networking service WhatsApp faced the wrath of the Saudi authorities, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Al Qaseem, in the heart of Saudi Arabia, said that it was using the application to receive complaints and ease communication with all the segments of society.

“The application was adopted as scores of citizens said that they faced difficulties reaching or interacting with the committee,” Shaikh Abdullah Al Mansour, the spokesperson for the committee in Al Qaseem, said. “The networking service has made the flow of information more smooth and contacts easier to establish,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Watan.

The committee is keen on using the latest technology for prompt interaction with the people, he added.

“We have the website of the committee which can receive complaints without the need for the citizen to physically come to the office,” he said.

Members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice are often viewed as old and archconservative. However, the image is being changed gradually through a series of reforms to bring the committee in line with modern tendencies in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest uses of social networks and microblogs in the Arab world.

News that the Whatsapp service was to be blocked emerged in June, prompting a flurry of negative reactions by Saudis keen on using the social network.

Saudi Arabia said that all applications had to comply with local regulations.

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