Saudi man given 150 lashes for unchaperoned meeting with woman

A Saudi Arabian man has been sentenced to eight months in prison and 150 lashes after he was caught meeting a woman without a chaperone in a coffee shop.

Muhammad Ali Abu Raziza, a psychology professor in Mecca, was arrested by the Kingdom’s feared religious police, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. He was accused of breaking the Islamic injunctions under the Khilwa code, which restricts the independence of women. It stipulates that women must not meet men alone, other than relatives.

However the professor has alleged police entrapment. He claimed a history of personality disputes with the arresting officers, who were once his students. In his defence, Abu Raziza had said he had called the woman to ensure she had a chaperone but despite her assurances, she was alone when he arrived. No information has emerged about the fate of the woman since the incident.

Amnesty International has urged Saudi authorities to release the professor: “Saudi Arabia should stop needlessly persecuting people like this – we want to see a complete end to people in the kingdom being punished for ‘khilwa’ offences.”

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