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30 Dec, 2013 14:39

​Cancel your New Year’s Eve festivities, Saudi religious police warn

​Cancel your New Year’s Eve festivities, Saudi religious police warn

Saudi Arabia's religious authorities have warned would-be revelers against celebrating New Year's Eve in the predominantly Sunni Muslim kingdom of 30 million people, local media report.

The warning was delivered by the Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), the government agency that employs "religious police" or Mutawa to enforce Sharia Law inside the Islamic nation.

The CPVPV based its warning on a religious edict handed down from the elite committee of Saudi clerics that forbids such celebrations, the local Okaz daily reported.

Saudi Arabia follows the Muslim lunar calendar, unlike all other Gulf states that use the Gregorian calendar.

While on patrol, the Mutawa enforce a number of rules, which include checking that women wear the abaya, a black, robe-like dress, enforcing the no-driving rule for females, and ensuring that drugs are not being traded.

The religious police also forbid the sale of red roses and gifts for Valentine's Day on February 14.

In November, Mutawa arrested two men in the capital of Riyadh for offering free hugs. Reportedly, the police reacted to the complaints of local families and individuals about the men's actions. The two had to sign a pledge that they would not offer free hugs ever again.