Sharia Alert from AP:
KABUL, Afghanistan – The Afghan government announced plans Tuesday to re-establish a Vice and Virtues Ministry, but it assured the public the office would not resemble the Taliban version that became a symbol of the brutal regime toppled
by U.S. forces in 2001.
Afghanistan’s powerful religious and tribal leaders have been pressing U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai to reinstate the ministry, which many considered the most powerful in the ousted Taliban government. It employed 32,000 people to enforce the Islamic zealots’ bans on girls’ schools, on television, on card-playing and other gambling, even on kite-flying and women’s public baths.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the move “raises serious concerns about potential abuse of the rights of women and vulnerable groups.”
Karim Rahimi, Karzai’s spokesman, said Afghans should not be worried.
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Human Rights Watch said the new office would concentrate on alcohol, drugs, crime and corruption but it noted that criminal laws in deeply conservative Afghanistan already deal with such matters.
“Afghan women and girls face increasing insecurity, and it’s more important for the government to address how to improve their access to public life rather than limit it further,” said Zama Coursen-Neff, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Reinstatement of this controversial department risks moving the discussion away from the vital security and human rights problems now engulfing the country.”
Karzai’s government tried to resurrect a downgraded version of the ministry as a department in 2002 but it was short-lived.