Camera phones get the chop in Saudi Arabia

Nokia's 7650 has been banned amid fears that men have been using camera phones to illicitly photograph Saudi Arabian women

Camera phones have reportedly been banned in Saudi Arabia, because men have been using the device to secretly photograph women.

The clampdown, which is thought to have seen Nokia's 7650 handset withdrawn from sale, follows complaints from religious figures in the country who claim that men have been using camera phones to snap women in contravention of Saudi law.

Nokia did not return calls for comment.

Saudi Arabia is a segregated society where men and women do not mix together outside of the home, and where women must cover themselves in a long robes and a veil when outside so that just their hands, eyes and feet are visible.

A religious police chief called for a ban on camera phones back in June this year, amid claims that men had smuggled the devices into segregated areas -- such as wedding halls reserved for women only -- and had taken pictures.

A Nokia spokesman told The Times that its 7650 phone has been withdrawn from sale in Saudi Arabia, but that no official reason had been given.

Saudi Arabia's religious leaders have been concerned in the past about technological advances that they believe break Islamic law.

Earlier this summer it emerged that the Saudi government had banned access to over 2,000 Web sites. Although many were sexually explicit or religious in nature, other vetoed sites were related to women, health, drugs and pop culture.

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