Saudi activists denounce bill against ‘foul-smelling labourers’ as discriminatory

By | 2018-01-30T18:05:57+00:00 Tuesday - 30 January 2018 - 6:05 pm|Tags: |
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Saudi public figures expressed their opposition to a move taken by the Shura council on Monday to force heavy fines or even jail on poor, “foul-smelling” worshippers at mosques.
The Public Decency Bill was published in the pro-government newspaper Okaz on Sunday. Shura member Dr Fayez al-Shahri justified the bill saying that it is designed to “limit abuses of personal freedom”.
Racist complaints about “foul-smelling workers”, often migrants, have been widespread, even in televised speeches on religious shows.
Such workers would be fined up to $800, far more than the workers earn. Critics accuse the regime of using it as an excuse to expel poor workers from the country.
Jamal Khashoggi, an exiled Saudi commentator who has been critical of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, criticised the Shura Council’s “vacuous judges”.
People on Twitter reacted to Khashoggi’s tweet. One said, “Pushing away poor people and labourers from mosques and empowering anti-immigrant voices with such a loose system [is unacceptable], the ‘uncleanliness’ differs from one person to another.”
Another said, “Even for entering the mosques they want to take 3,000 Riyals [$800] from the poor and the labourers because their clothes are unclean… This Shura Council only represents itself… In fact, only [foreign] workers and drivers go to the mosques in northern Riyadh.”
A prominent Saudi cleric, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, said, “I remember the days when we toiled and smelled and then went to the mosques… these people earn little more than 500 Riyals [$150], have mercy on them.”

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