Messing with the Saudi mutaween (religious police) is not recommended — particularly if you happen to be a Saudi woman.

Granted power to enforce Sharia Law by order of King Abdullah himself, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice employs thousands of members and volunteers whose sole duty it is to go around and harass people they think are not being Muslim enough.

And they don't kid around: In 2002, members of the HAIA reportedly prevented schoolgirls in Mecca from fleeing a fire because they were not properly dressed. Fourteen perished in the flames.


Given this record, it is extremely unusual to see a woman confront a mutawwa in public, but that's precisely what occurred recently in the Hayat Mall in Riyadh — and it left quite an impression.

A female Saudi mall patron, irritated by the persistent pestering of a "vice preventor" who had apparently taken offence to her freshly manicured nails, turned on her camera-phone, and began recording her adamant refusal to leave the mall at his behest.

"Why are you chasing me?" says the unidentified woman in the video. "The government said no more chasing! Your duty is to advise people...why are you looking at my manicure? I will never leave the mall!"

According to the Saudi Gazette, the woman's actions incited a mini-revolution, which led to the launch of an official commission review of the member's conduct.

[video via MEMRI]