Until three years ago, the religious police elicited widespread fear, chasing men and women out of malls to pray.
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RIYADH: With burger patties sizzling over a hot grill, a Saudi eatery did the unthinkable as a muazzin's call to prayer sent worshippers scrambling to lower their shutters: It stayed open. The scene, amid a sweeping reform drive, was a striking contrast to the days when religious police wielded unbridled powers and drove people out of malls and shops to enforce the Islamic world's only mandatory prayer time shutdown.The decision triggered confusion over whether it includes the five daily Islamic prayer times.It was among some eateries in Riyadh's upscale Kingdom Center mall openly catering to customers during Maghrib (sunset) prayer.At another leading Riyadh mall, Al-Nakheel, a similar scene also played out during the Isha (evening) prayer.Pillar of Islam Following the Fajr (dawn) prayer, shops in the kingdom typically have to close four times daily, with workers often out of action for more than 30 minutes.Not all shops are staying open for business, however.
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