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Sat 6 Dec 2008 10:42 AM

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Saudi religious police go on charm offensive

Mutawa'a members go bowling with teenagers, part of efforts to win over opponents.

Saudi Arabia's religious police have gone on a charm offensive in an effort to improve their image, including bowling with teenagers, the UK's Financial Times reported on Saturday.

The newspaper said the bowling outing last month was the latest move by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, also known as the mutawa'a, to win over opponents, which have accused the force of being heavy-handed in enforcing religious mores.

The FT said the mutawa'a had announced plans to unroll its 10,000 members in classes on how to better deal with the public.

The force has also said it may consider suggestions from outsiders on ways to improve its operations to better suit Saudi's changing society, according to the FT.

Other plans under consideration by the mutawa'a include setting up its own TV station, the newspaper said.

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