Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious police ordered the arrest of 57 youths this week for flirting with girls in malls in the holy city of Mecca, The Saudi Gazette reported on Saturday.
The young men were detained on Thursday evening by regular police officers following a request from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the English-language daily reported.
They were accused of wearing “indecent clothing and playing loud music and dancing” to attract the attention of the opposite sex, it added.
Members of the commission, known as the Muttawa, patrol public areas to ensure the kingdom’s brand of ultra-conservative Islam is enforced, and this includes strict segregation of the sexes.
The Muttawa also cracked down on Valentine’s Day by banning florists from selling red roses.
In a fatwa or religious edict issued seven years ago, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, declared the celebration named after the Christian patron saint of love a “pagan Christian holiday."