Police in Saudi Arabia have arrested an Arab family of 27 for begging.
“Our agents discovered a network of men, women and children that beg in different areas and they closely monitored them,” Nawaf Bin Nasser Al Booq, the spokesman for the police in Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia, said.
“After the agents gathered enough evidence about the beggars’ activities, they raided their home. They found all the beggars they had secretly been photographing and filming. Investigations revealed that the family was made up of seven women, three men and 17 children aged between 18 months and 13 years,” he said, quoted by local news site Sabq on Thursday.
The family had arrived in Saudi Arabia two months earlier to perform Umrah, but opted to stay illegally in the country and take up begging as a “profession”. Under the tactic adopted by the family, the women, with their faces covered, could stay for long periods of time in the same place, but the children, easily recognisable, had to be moved around in order to not attract attention.
“We summoned the owner of the house, a Saudi national in his 30s, for investigations and legal action and contacted the authorities in charge of expatriates to apply the customary procedures in such cases,” the spokesman said.
“We urge the public not to cooperate directly or indirectly with this category of beggars because it means that money is being channelled to people who may not deserve it. In addition, the money is collected using a ruse that exploits Saudi nationals and expatriate residents.”
Saudi Arabia has been actively involved in a struggle to end the phenomenon of begging, usually by organised groups of foreigners in front of mosques.
Ramadan has often been used as an auspicious occasion by beggars.
Most online comments lauded the arrest of the family and insisted on the immediate deportation of all the members.
Several readers named the places and areas in the Red Sea city of Jeddah where they could see beggars regularly requesting money from people and called for immediate action against them.