Ahmad al-Ghamdi, a former chief of the religious police in the city of Mecca, said the force feels threatened by social media because “it makes it harder to supervise people.” He said he resigned from his position in protest of abuses committed by members of the religious police, which is tasked with enforcing Islamic law.
Many Saudis say the religious police have increasingly resorted to sting operations, blackmail and beatings in public.
Saudi Arabia goes to notorious lengths to prevent unsanctioned romance.
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Smartphones seem ubiquitous among almost all age groups and income levels.
Surveys have shown that Saudi Arabia, a nation of 22 million citizens, has one of the world’s highest rates of Twitter and You Tube users.
Abdulrahman al-Shuqir, a sociologist at the Ministry of Higher Education who writes about the history of sexual relations in Saudi Arabia, said private communication channels available on social-media networks help foster meaningful relationships.
That in turn, he said, has led to an apparent rise in physical encounters between unmarried people.
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His wife of nearly a decade and mother of his two young daughters eventually asked for a divorce over the incident, said Turki, who spoke on the condition that his last name not be used.