Vice Squad

HASAN JAMALI / AP

SINFUL PLEASURES: Risking the wrath of the religious police, a woman in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, loosens her veil to eat an ice cream

On a hot and humid evening two months ago, a dozen police cars rolled up to the simple Riyadh residence of Salman al-Huraisi, a 28-year-old hotel security guard. The policemen stormed into the house, breaking down doors, tearing through personal belongings and crying, "God is great!" Then they arrested al-Huraisi, along with 10 other family members. His alleged crime: consuming and selling beer.

Al-Huraisi's visitors were members of Saudi Arabia's religious police, a 10,000-strong force called the Commission for the Protection of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice. Back at the commission's local headquarters, events took a tragic...

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