British Couple attacked by Mutawa (HAIA) – Full Story

Incident within the Mall: The story of a British couple who were attacked by the members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (HAIA) is circulating on social media. I did not write anything upon it intentionally. Now, I am covering this case from the beginning of this issue till today. Eye witnesses of the scene reported that the victim named Peter Haworth was in one of the Malls of Riyadh on Friday with his Saudi wife (Abeer) when several members of the HAIA started pursuing him till the cashier’s counter. They asked him why he chose that specific counter but Peter who could not understand the Arabic said that his wife (Abeer) is with him. It should be noted that counter on which Peter was standing was only for the families. Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (HAIA) went away from the sight after that.

What happened outside Mall? After this incident, Peter and Abeer were walking out of the mall when they noticed that HAIA members are following them. They started taking pictures of the couple and their car. Peter got offended and he also started taking pictures of their car. At this moment, the issue started becoming violent. Peter said that he took pictures so that in the case of any problem, he can show to someone who followed them. Members of the HAIA were furious on his act of taking pictures in response and started asking for his camera (mobile phone). He obviously refused to hand over his mobile phone. Eyewitnesses said that at that time, they got themselves locked in the car but their car was surrounded by the HAIA members. They started hitting the car asking them to come out. Peter and Abeer called the police at that time. They also called British Embassy and they sent a special vehicle for the security immediately to that mall.

Who Rescued them? When he came out of the car they asked for the camera again but he refused. At this moment, he was attacked by the HAIA members and he fell down. While he was getting up, another member of the HAIA attacked him flying from nowhere and he fell down again. On the second hit, Abeer came for his protection and slapped heavily on the face of the HAIA member who kicked him off. You can see this scene in the below video.

After Effects of such Incident: Police came on the spot soon but they did not intervene when they found that HAIA members are dealing with the issue. They did not even ask from the victims their problem. Victims remained surrounded by the HAIA members until the special vehicle from the British Embassy came to rescue them. They dropped them to their home and stayed there till late night to avoid any future attack upon them. Police summoned the couple next day and started the proceedings. It appeared that HAIA members were harassing the couple. As a result of this, Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (HAIA) formally wrote a letter to the British Embassy and Peter as well to excuse them for the mistake. Four members who were involved in assaulting the British couple have been removed from the core job. They have been moved to out of Riyadh on some administrative jobs as reported by Arab News. However, it has also been reported that one of these four members has refused to accept punishment. HAIA members involved may face up to 10 years of punishment and SR 20,000/- fine as reported by Saudi Gazette.

Lesson from the Story: I do not want to write much under this heading but I think this is a point to think about. The issue was highlighted only because it happened to a British citizen. Had this happened to some Somali, Bangladeshi, Indian or Pakistani citizen, everyone would be claiming that this Somali couple is at fault. It also gives an alarming call to the Saudis that they should respect every nationality. Every expatriate is a human being and deserves to live in Saudi Arabia if Saudi government has given him permission to do so.