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50 Saudi men detained over 'un-Islamic' haircuts and necklaces

The arrests happened despite recent announcements from authorities that the morality police would be 'kind and gentle'
Saudis browse at the annual Riyadh International Book Exhibition in March (AFP)

Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested 50 youths for having haircuts and wearing necklaces and accessories that were deemed "un-Islamic" on Tuesday.  

The arrests took place as part of a Ramadan crackdown by Saudi officials in the western Saudi city of Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest site. 

According to Saudi news site Sabq, the 50 young men were handed over to the department of criminal investigations, after investigators inspected shopping centres in the city.

Officers came across the youths while looking for a “number of offences like strange haircuts, chains that are hung upon the chest or arms, head wraps and short clothes and immodest ones - for both men and women,” Sabq reported

The Saudi Kingdom’s morality police is mandated to advise Saudi citizens about “habits and traditions that are against religious teachings”. 

The crackdown against immoral behaviour by Saudi authorities comes after its morality police were ordered to be "kind and gentle" by the Saudi Cabinet in April. 

Under changes approved by the Saudi cabinet, religious officers are no longer able to detain people and instead must report violators "breaking the morality" to police or drug squad officers.       

A fatwa issued by the Saudi soccer association last April banned all players from having an 'al-Qaza'-style hair cut, one which leaves part of the hair shaved while another part is unshaven. 

The fatwa, in its first application, saw three players in a Saudi football match banned from playing until they changed their lifestyles.

But haircuts deemed inappropriate were already banned in the league. A video clip of al-Shabaab goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah, getting a free haircut pitchside to remove his mini mohawk before a match in 2012, went viral earlier this year.