Saudi Arabia's famous public decency law has finally taken effect this week as police officers started recording violations, Sabq news site reported. Though the legislation was first rolled out in April, it hasn't been implemented till now.
So far, authorities have reported 11 violations in Jeddah alone, with some of the breaches including men wearing shorts and others littering at a local mall.
When a violation is recorded against an individual, it automatically gets listed under their civil registration number. They are then expected to pay a fine. Under the law, second-time offenders can face up to 6,000 Saudi riyals ($1,600) in fines in cases involving "conducting shameful acts in public, specifically those involving sexual acts."
"People, the government is serious about implementing the public decency law. Beware."
The legislation now criminalizes any act deemed distasteful to the public, with fines up to 5,000 Saudi riyals ($1,333) for first-time offenders.
Its first article defines public decency as "a set of behaviors and morals that reflect the country's social norms, values and identity." Under the bill, bullying in all its forms including name-calling and racist language is considered a crime. Playing loud music or spreading disruptive sounds in public is also prohibited. As for outfits, wearing immodest clothing or garments with questionable prints on them is punishable. For men, wearing shorts or walking in public in white underwear garments is also an offense.
In addition to the above, the law criminalizes crossing a queue in a public space, filming people without their consent, unlicensed graffiti art, putting up posters in streets, placing advertising brochures in front of homes or on cars, littering, and going into mosques while wearing dirty clothes.
The law is now in effect in most public spaces across the kingdom including all public transportation facilities, educational campuses, medical facilities, and shopping malls. It will also cover governmental offices, parks, as well as roads and highways.
The first public decency violations were shared on social media
Thousands are tweeting out photos and videos of people being stopped by police patrols for violating the law.
Many are warning others to follow the rules to avoid being slapped with hefty fines.
"Just to remind you that jogging in shorts is currently a violation"
"I was running in Corniche and was stopped by a patrol car. When I went over to them I discovered that I was violating the public decency law because I was wearing shorts. I am supposed to be jogging in pants."
No more shorts in public, people
"I thought they were just messing around with us but they just started implementing the public decency law. A man I know got a violation ticket because he was wearing shorts. Though it's not mentioned in these flyers but shorts are prohibited."
"Farewell, my dear shorts"
Wearing PJ's in public is prohibited
"To those who walk around in their pajamas and go to mosques wearing them, beware of public decency law fines."