Saudi Religious Police Now On Twitter And Here’s What They’re Tweeting About

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Now that the force has joined Twitter, many believe the Haia will try to take advantage of its online presence to further quell free speech.

After years of criticizing social networking websites, Saudi Arabia’s morality police called the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – aka “Haia” – has joined Twitter.

The verified account @PvGovSa was launched on Friday and already has more than 65,000 followers.

The latest move is apparently an effort by the religious force to restore its popularity – and it only makes sense since Saudis are listed among world's heaviest Twitter users.

“Abdul Rahman Al-Sanad, president of the commission, inaugurated the account and announced the formation of a higher committee for media and public relations to improve the Haia’s public image,” the Saudi Gazette reported.

Here are some of the tweets from the new account:

Translation: “In the name of Allah and Allah’s blessing kicks off the official account of the General Presidency for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on Twitter asking Allah to benefit by everyone.”

Translation: His Excellency the President-General signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Al-Jawf.

Translation: Private contact with His Excellency President General directly e-mail.

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The decision to join Twitter – of all the other social media platforms available – is regarded a huge shift in the Haia’s policies because the police unit had previously been a staunch critic of the service in particular.

In May 2013, the head of the force, Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, stated that anyone using social media sites, such as Twitter, "has lost this world and his afterlife.”

Just last December, the committee closed at least 10,117 Twitter accounts citing “ethical and religious violations.”

The Haia are known for going to extremes in enforcing Sharia'h law in the kingdom. They mainly work to keep sexes separated in public and ensure that prayers are done properly in mosques; however, they also are notorious for their abuse of power.

Now that the force has joined Twitter, many believe the Haia will try to take advantage of its online presence to further quell free speech.

In November, Human Rights Watch alleged that Saudi authorities “stepped up their crackdown on online dissidents,” using "vague laws" to charge and prosecute citizens who dare to criticize the kingdom’s various unjust policies. Most recently, secular blogger Raif Badawi, who has been jailed since 2012 for “insulting Islam,” was sentenced to 1,000 lashes.

Although international human rights proponents view Badawi’s imprisonment as an attempt to intimidate free speech, Saudi Arabia plans to go on with the completion of his punishment. He is to be flogged 50 times every Friday for 20 weeks.

Also Read: Saudi Cleric Tells Muslims To Fight ISIS On Facebook, Twitter

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