Saudi Arabia's religious police have announced a ban on selling cats and dogs as pets, or walking them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women, an official said on Wednesday.
Othman al-Othman, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh, known as the Muttawa, told the Saudi edition of al-Hayat daily that the commission has started enforcing an old religious edict.
He said the commission was implementing a decision taken a month ago by the acting governor of the capital, Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, adding that it follows an old edict issued by the supreme council of Saudi scholars.
The reason behind reinforcing the edict now was a rising fashion among some men using pets in public "to make passes on women and disturb families," he said, without giving more details.
Othman said that the commission has instructed its offices in the capital to tell pet shops "to stop selling cats and dogs".
The 5,000-strong religious police oversees the adherence to Wahabism -- a strict version of Sunni Islam, which also forces women to cover from head to toe when in public, and bans them from driving.