A man dies, a family destroyed, because of religious police car chase

Al Watan reported that a Saudi man was killed and his wife and two children were injured when their car crashed off a bridge while being pursued by religious police in Jeddah, a spokesman for the religious police said on Monday. Formally known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), religious police officers arrest those who do not comply with their rules. In March the commission’s head banned car pursuits which had led to several fatal accidents.

Family members told Saudi Arabia’s al-Watan newspaper that the chase began when a CPVPV officer confronted Abdulrahman Ahmed al-Ghamdi, 35, and his family while he was returning home from an amusement park in the southern province of al-Baha. The music played were Islamic children’s songs. According to the story the CPVPV supporters now put out Abdulrahman was going through a police checkpoint and was uncooperative and that it was the police who actually chased the family and the CPVPV come only on the accident spot much later. It is the norm for the CPVPV to put out fairytales after they have been the cause of innocent lives lost.

The car sped off with the religious police in pursuit, and crashed over a bridge, killing Ghamdi. His nine year-old son is in a coma and his five months pregnant wife may have to have her arm amputated as a result of the accident. His younger daughter, 4, is in stable condition in hospital with several broken bones. Nasser al-Zahrani, a spokesman for the CPVPV in al-Baha confirmed the report. “There is a committee set up and an investigation ongoing to look into the incident,” he said.

Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh, the head the CPVPV, was quoted in the local al-Watan newspaper commenting on the incident. “I have expressed my sadness and regret to the (al-Baha governor) and we hope that he will forward the case to the appropriate department for investigation.

Security services arrested four members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice after they were interrogated (on Sunday) over the chase.
The men will be charged with “abusing power, chasing a man with his family while ignoring instructions given to members of the committee completely banning chases”.

The ruler of Al-Baha, Prince Mashari bin Saud bin Abdul Aziz said he was “appalled at the manner” in which the religious police acted and that an committee had been instructed to investigate the incident, state news agency SPA reported.
“All those linked to the accident have been arrested and are being interrogated… those responsible will be punished,” .

In March 2012 the religious police promised to stop the car chases. Alriyadh newspaper quoted the head of the force, Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh, as saying: “The car chases by the religious police will end” .
A spokesman for the force, Abdulmohsen al-Qifari, confirmed this. “We care a great deal to make the image of the commission a positive one that reflects the true image of Islam. There is no doubt that these (plans) portray a new vision for the commission,”.

The religious police been trying to soften their image after gaining the reputation of being aggressive following several fatal accidents, prompting criticism at home and abroad. The decision to ban car chases was not widely accepted by all members of the religious police. The Saudi religious police has suffered repeated criticism at home and abroad, most notoriously after local media accused religious police of hampering efforts to rescue 15 girls who died inside a blazing Mecca school in 2002. “We have carried out many training sessions to prepare our patrols for catching up with the times,” Al al-Sheikh said.



22 Responses

  1. There are so many things wrong with how the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice has been handled in Saudi Arabia. The obvious ones are seen in stories of the girls who died in a school fire, but the less obvious ones are in how vice and virtue are viewed as easy to define categories that can be found in a 7th century text. So we see absolute prohibition of alcohol and pork, but an inability to control reckess driving. We see a male run society that is completely stymied in dealing with women and girls. So, they do allow them to be educated but don’t allow them to use their skills without permission of some male (who may be a boy or an uneducated man). We see a society whose wealth is siphoned off by a royal family instead of having that wealth build a truly productive society.

  2. “All those linked to the accident have been arrested and are being interrogated… those responsible will be punished,” Oh yeah, punished?

    The Saudi extremist justice system is selective. Not that am in favor of the Saudi barbaric beheading system, but if this mayhem is caused by an ordinary citizen, his head would be chopped in a public square promptly.

    The religious police is a licensed terrorist organization whose assignment is to terrorize the population for political reasons.

    If the ruling elites are serious about public safety and the sanctity of life, they should declare the irreligious commission for what it is: A licensed terrorist organization whose assignment is to terrorize and murder innocent children, pregnant mothers and school children.

  3. Reblogged this on Critical Thinking – A World View and commented:
    The Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is an agency that is alleged to uphold religious requirements. This is an organization that actually has training on anti-witch craft for a week. The individuals who are designated as religious police are often times lacking in education and most often in common sense. Not only have they been responsible for this accident but numerous other accidents within the Saudi Kingdom which has led to death of individual’s for the most ridiculous issues. The most famous blood bath attributed to them was back in 2002 where they refused to allow girls from leaving a burning school due to the lack of head covering and 15 girls died. In addition, the organization has been instrumental in the killing of innocent people for witchcraft. I believe thus organization should be renamed to the Religious Death Squad.

  4. “The men will be charged with “abusing power, chasing a man with his family while ignoring instructions given to members of the committee completely banning chases”.

    …but not vehicular manslaughter?

  5. I’m no fan of the Committee, but really did the victim have to recklessly race away, causing infinitely more harm than answering some questions?

  6. Is there such a charge as “vehicular manslaughter” in Saudi Arabia?

    Was the car stopped because children’s music was being played?

    It does seem hopeful that chases are being banned and events such as described here are publicized. Of course the perpetrators may get a slap on the wrist and no more, but the words of Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh sound as if he is at least smart enough not to make excuses or defend the Religious Police.

  7. Absurd, frustrating !

  8. Oh boy, this CPVPV sounds just like Stalin’s NKVD/People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs and Hitler’s Gestapo/Geheimes Staatspolizei-Amt. Treat your citizens like adults and they will act and behave like adults.

    When will these royals ever learn???

  9. As I’m a police officer in Jeddah, it’s not true news and no one dies behave of the religious police. Please before you submit any news please make sure. Don’t listing to media to much.

  10. Mohd:

    Quite frankly the same could be said about police as many cover and hide atrocities, deception and crime as well. The news media can be the public’s best friend or their enemy. The problem is the religious police have a known record for such events and blood on thier hands.

    So who would I listen to first………hmmmmmmmmmm……….those who believe in inquisition and witchcraft ……..hmmmmmmm……….those who arrest women for driving and jail them or sentence them for lashes……….hmmmmmmm………..those who have been responsible for putting people in jail for tweets………..hmmmmmmm…………..those who are known to have raped, abused women in their custody for violations of religious (stupid) stuff…………….hmmmmmmmmmmmm…………those who have been responsible for the death of 15 girls……………..hmmmmm……………….the list goes on OR do I listen to the media………………………………………………….HHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM……………………………….

    I think I will listen to the media.

  11. Mohd, I understand that often the media get it slightly correct and completely wrong so I appreciate the internet where people can make corrections to news report. As a police officer, could you please tell us what DID happen. What part of the report was wrong? Was the head of the Religious Police misquoted? Was it the police involved rather than the religious police? What were the circumstances that caused the wrecked vehicle pictured?

    Thanks for any information you can provide.

  12. bigstick1 !!!

    i want to refer that – as you know !!! – the religious police is an official government sector !!! and if you want to talk about the statistics of the ( blood on the hands ) i’m sure that you will find another government sectors has away more blood on their hands than religious police !!!

    i’m not defending for the religious police or attacking another Government agencies !!! they have mistakes as the police, traffic police and fire have mistakes !!!

    and about Baljurashi accedent you need to know that a police car was chasing the family with the religion men car !!! which mean that the police are Involved as well in the case !!! but even if the police or religious police broke the law you can’t shut down a complete systems for ten or 20 persons mistakes !!!

    we need to use Constructive criticism to increase the quality of our lives and the quality of the services that presented to us by the government !!! >>>and even if you will stay temporary in the country for a previous engagement and not forever , it’s after all your right to have a good life even for one single week !!!

    we should Criticize to correct and fix !!! not to make useless statistics or destroy complete systems !!!

    and i apologize for the 100th time >>> coz my English isn’t perfect !!!

  13. @Mohd – I understand the point you are making. The media has opened up significantly in KSA but not enough that all that is said or written can be ascertained as all the facts of the story. It makes it a challenge for wanting to inform. In regards to blogging, I think stating some stories from the media does facilitate dialogue on issues.

  14. EA, your English might not be perfect but it is understandable. Thanks for adding that the regular police were involved. I do wonder if there was something else involved in the story.

    Here in the US, I believe police agencies have tried to eliminate or cut way down on chases as too often it leads to bystanders being hurt. I also read in a Malcolm Gladwell (American author) book that people involved in chases usually have increased adrenaline and pulse rates. In studies, individuals in this physical state make very poor decisions.

  15. Annie:

    Yes for the majority of police agencies it must be a felony offense that could lead to the endangerment of others otherwise you disengage even then it must be known that the endangerment would be immediate.

    You never chase someone for such a stupid offense like music. In addition, it is true that an adrenaline dump creates issues of poor decision making. This is why police officer/soldiers/firemen are required to undergo numerous hours in combat or simulated live senarios. This allows an individual to understand the effects of the adrenaline rush and to gain experience in dealing with the dump into the system whereby you are both exposed to the dump and a critical incident requiring independent quick and sound decision making skills. I assure you this is necessary when taking on actually live fire in how you will deal with the situation.

    You should know that depending on the religous police training this dump of adrenaline would create the same poor decision making issues and might in fact be worse as he deems himself to have the power to engage (God syndrome). This syndrome actually occurs with some individuals within law enforcement particular the individuals who are not exposed to actual emergency situations they then can turn a non-emergency situation into an emergency situation due to their power trip.

  16. EA:

    The religious police are a nuances and a joke. In essences they are rent a cops on a God trip which can be as bad as a person on LSD, Meow, Acid or some other type of drug which induces God like trips.

  17. bigstick1:
    thanx for your comment
    but !!
    according to your opinion , what is the perfect solution for the religious police problems ?

  18. Annie:
    according to the investigation unit report !!!
    who are involved in the accident are !!!
    1- members of religious police .
    2- members of regular police .
    3- the company which designed and built the bridge with a poor safety system.

    and good news :
    the young daughter is stable and she woke up !! but she need time to recover . 🙂

    bad news :
    the the mother and her son are in a dangerous situation !!! and they have been evacuated to Jeddah the coz the mother need a surgery and the son is still in a coma 😦

    I would like to say that the report referred too that the father has some responsibility about what happened to him and his family !!! coz when the members of religious polices asked him to stop he escaped with a high speed !!!

    but his responsibility is nothing compared with police responsibility .

  19. oh !!!! the truth is always obvious !!!!
    about Baljurashi accident the final investigations referred that !!!

    the regular police is who asked the family father to stop first !!! then the father escaped and the regular police car started chasing him !!! and after the beginning of the chasing there was a car for the religious police in the same location joined the chasing with the regular police car !!

    after that the father stopped his car !!! >>> one of the police men got out the police car walking to the family car to check the father ID and driving permission !!! and when the police man become close to the family car >>> the father escaped again !!!

    and the chase started again !!! which ended with the horrible accident !!!

    in my opinion !!! the responsibility division is like this :
    50% regular police
    25% religious police
    10% who build the bridge
    15% …………………………..

    100% tot note : usually we Criticize the religious police
    mistakes and Lose sight of the regular police mistakes

  20. EA…you mentioned that the father (driver) “escaped” as in he had been under arrest of some sort..and thus was fleeing authority. Is it mentioned that he was under arrest at the time of the police questioning him? Did they chase him once he took off because whatever it was he did to be stopped was a crime worthy of pursuit? I’m just curious…

  21. After reading the title and article, one could be swayed to read through biased eyes. However, what I don’t understand is this… Why did this man, father, husband put HIS family in danger? Why conduct a high speed chase with your pregnant wife and children in the car? Aren’t the rules in Saudi Arabia (or anywhere else for that matter) for citizens to abide by?

    I read the title, understand that media is biased, but if what is being said here is true why are people coming down so hard on the “Religious Police” and not the man who put his own life and family in danger? I think it was a very selfish act on his part (may Allah forgive him for any wrong he has done ameen).

    I think people hate the “Religious Police” so much or what they stand for and lose sight of the immoral acts and the consequences there of that they are trying to stop.

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