Saudi Arabian women 'questioned by morality police' for organising beauty pageant

Miss Makkah pageant was reportedly banned after 'angry' citizens complained

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The Independent Online

A group of women in Saudi Arabia have been questioned by authorities for allegedly attempting to hold a beauty pageant in the holy city of Mecca.

The women were summoned for questioning after leaflets advertising the pageant were reported to the state’s morality police, the Saudi Gazette reports.

The event was quickly banned by authorities for violating Sharia enforced within the strict Islamic state.

Its alleged organisers invited women “of any colour aged between 17 and 27 years” to participate in the free-of-charge pageant, which was due to take place over four nights at a banquet hall this weekend.

The advert reportedly said the winner of the “Miss Makkah" pageant would receive a gold ring, while runners-up could expect “valuable gifts”.

The Makkah governorate were alerted to the pageant by the Commission for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue (Haia), according to Arab News.

The Haia agency handed over a report said to contain complaints from the public and invitations to the event.

Haia agents are responsible for ensuring codes of dress and behaviour are followed. Women in Saudia Arabia are expected to observe stringent rules surrounding their behaviour and dress in the conservative Kingdom.

They are required to wear a headscarf and loose, black robes in public and need permission from a man to travel, get married and pursue higher education.

Females are also not permitted to drive in the state and must instead pay drivers to escort them around.

Women in Saudi Arabia must rely on male relatives to drive them places or pay drivers at a cost of about £200 a month

An official at the hall told Arab News businesswomen had reserved the banquet hall and confirmed authorities had banned the event.

He said: “The women who reserved the wedding hall did not disclose the activity and simply stated it was a ‘social activity.

“Management had no knowledge that a beauty pageant was going to be held at the hall.”