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Cairo: Saudi authorities said that anti-begging penalties also include the pursuit of the illegal practice on social media.

The warning comes as security authorities in the kingdom have initiated an anti-begging campaign against beggars.

“Penalties in the anti-begging system also target any person practicing begging to collect money on social networking sites,” the kingdom’s General Directorate of Public Security said, according to Al Watan newspaper.

“Anyone begging to obtain money from others in cash or in kind directly or indirectly in public places, private locations or via social networking sites in any way is considered a beggar, and will be liable o jailing and fine penalties stipulated in the law,” the directorate added.

Beggars usually take advantage of the Muslim holy month and characteristic benevolence for the illegal practice.

Earlier this week, the Saudi General Directorate of Public Security said police started arresting beggars and referring them to com-petent agencies for violating the country’s system.

Authorities have urged citizens and expatriates to use legal channels to ensure delivery of their donations to the needy.

Last year, Saudi Arabia launched the state-sponsored platform Ihsan (Charity) allowing would-be benefactors to make donations via smartphone apps and choose preferred categories of assis-tance.

According to Saudi law, begging is punishable by a maximum of one year in prison or fines of up to SR100,000 or both penalties. Foreign offenders face deportation after serving the term in Sau-di Arabia and are barred from re-entry.