Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice  has denied reports of a ban to counter the trend of young men frequenting shopping malls in their undershirts and long pyjamas.
“The commission has not issued any statement about this matter and violations in general are addressed according to the existing regulations,” Najm Al Dhufairi, the spokesman for the commission in the Eastern Province, told the Saudi news website Sabq. 
A Saudi daily had on Monday reported that the commission had called for strictly imposing a ban on young men who walked into shopping malls wearing clothes usually worn under the traditional thobe, or dishdasha. 
According to Al Yaum, the commission’s decision was prompted by the increasing number of young men opting to do away with their traditional robes and appearing in public places in only their white undershirts and long underpants.
“The undershirts and long underpants are supposed to be worn under thobes,” the daily said attributing the statement to the commission. “Wearing them in public clashes with public standards and causes negative public reactions among people in shopping malls or in parks. We will resist this unacceptable behaviour and action will be taken against violators,” the commission said, as per Al Yaum.
A spokesman for the Eastern Province police said that complaints about young men “parading in their undershirts and long underpants in shopping malls” was often reported by families.
“In fact, such indecency complaints are third on the list of grievances reported by shoppers, right after harassment and verbal fights,” Ziad Al Ruqaiti said. “Usually the security services at the shopping malls deal with such incidents and the police intervene only when matters get out of their control,” he told Al Yaum.
Comments in the Saudi blogosphere  called for a careful and comprehensive study of the issue of casually dressed younth to understand it and work on a lasting solution.
“I can assure you that most of these young men do it not out of conviction, but rather as a daring challenge,” Aboud posted.
A post by someone going by the name Tarmi said the young men resorted to unusual outfits “because they have plenty of free time and no real place where they can use their potential.”
“Get them busy by engaging them in activities they like and they will put an end to their unusual behaviour,” was the advice.
Amlor took an altogether different view: the young men venturing out in “underwear clothes and shorts” need help. “They just want to be different even if their outfits clash with good taste and public decency. They are moral outcasts who need help.”
By Habib Toumi
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