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Sunday, 5 May, 2002, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Saudi Arabia bans 'indecent' cloaks
Saudi women
The confiscated abayas were considered too revealing
Saudi Arabian authorities have confiscated thousands of full-length black cloaks for women for violating strict Islamic law (Sharia), a Saudi newspaper has reported.

Al-Jazirah said religious police and officials from the commerce ministry had searched more than 350 shops and factories producing the abayas in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

The newspaper said 82,000 of the garments were removed.

The confiscated abayas, which are worn from head to toe, were considered to be too revealing or carried decorations and drawings prohibited under Sharia.

No decorations

Women are obliged by law to wear the opaque black cloaks in public in the puritanical Islamic kingdom.

A Saudi official in charge of combating trade crime, Abdul Ali bin Ibrahim Abdul Aali, said the manufacturers of the defective abayas would be punished, the English-language Arab News newspaper reported.

It quoted Mr Aali as saying that a "decent woman's" cloak had to be thick and non-revealing, not body hugging, and devoid of decorations or markings that would attract public attention.

He was also quoted as saying the non-regulation garments were becoming increasingly popular in large Saudi cities.

See also:

25 Jan 02 | Middle East
Saudis criticise US dress-code change
31 Dec 01 | Middle East
Saudi women advise on marriage crisis
10 Dec 01 | Middle East
Saudi women get identity cards
27 Sep 00 | Middle East
Amnesty raps Saudis over women's rights
27 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
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