Banning the sale of dogs and cats.

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Islamic religious police are enforcing a law banning the sale of dogs and cats in Saudi Arabia’s capital. Men walking one in a park are also calling for trouble. The reason – pet owners may use their animal companions to make passes on women.

A similar ban already exists in the cities of Mecca and Jeddah, reports the Associated Press news agency. But unlike those, the ban in Riyadh will be strictly enforced, say the authorities.

Violators found with their pets in public face confiscation and will be forced to sight a pledge not to repeat the act. If he doesn’t behave afterwards, he will be handed over to authorities.

The ban, however, doesn’t cover women.

In addition to enforcing gender segregation, the ban may also be an attempt to stop pet ownership – the fad among upper classes that is perceived a corrupting Western influence by many people in Islamic courtiers.

In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean animals that can be only kept for guarding and hunting.

Banning cats is more puzzling, since felines have no negative image in Arab world. Prophet Muhammad is said to have encouraged people to treat cats well on several occasions.

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