police warn ‘punitive measures’ will be taken, all celebrations banned
Saudi Arabia’s religious police has warned that “punitive measures” will be taken against those who celebrated New Year’s Eve on December 31, Arabic daily Okaz reported.
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vices (Haia) based its warning on a religious edict issued by the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars banning such celebrations, the newspaper said.
The conservative Islamic kingdom follows the Muslim lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, which stems from the Christian religion.
Its new year is based on the moon and most recently started on November 3.
Haia officials are known to deliberately search for people buying items used to celebrate Christian holidays and confiscate them.
Similar warnings have been issued by Islamic groups in other countries, including in Malaysia where Malaysia International Institute of Islamic Cooperation (Ikiam) said New Year’s Eve reflected the Jewish culture and would cause Muslim youths to commit sins.
“The celebrations will have excessive entertainment, which can cause the majority of Muslim youth to let their guard down and commit a lot of sin,” Ikiam leader Datuk Mustapha Idrus said.