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Saudi religious police office hit in arson attack

September 1, 2013

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Authorities enforcing Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic codes say arsonists attacked one of its offices in Riyadh, but caused only limited damage in a rare direct strike against the feared religious police.

Criticism of the force has grown on social media sites, but violence against officers or facilities is unusual. Saudi leaders, meanwhile, increasingly have opposed once widespread practices such as beating or humiliating alleged violators of the ultraconservative kingdom’s rules such as gender segregation and full coverings for women.

In March, a widely viewed Internet video showed a woman belittling an officer who tried to remove her from a mall because of her nail polish.

Officials said Sunday that security cameras showed a fire being set to an electrical meter outside the office. There were no injuries or serious damage.

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