Once again, wherever Sharia experiences renewed interest, the observable effect is that tolerance decreases and harassment increases, and morality policing is a cheap, easy way for a government to look busy and shore up its Islamic credentials while reminding the public who’s boss.
It is a diversion from larger issues that a real, functioning government is expected to handle, and anyone who objects once such a group is up and running risks the accusation that their priorities lie disproportionately in this world rather than the next. “Islamic preacher calls for ministry for ‘promotion of virtue’,” from Al Masry Al Youm, January 2:
An Islamic preacher on Sunday called for the formation of a ministry to implement the teachings of Islam in schools, hospitals and in the street, similar to religious police in other countries.
About a week ago, a group of Salafis on Facebook formed a group calling for a committee for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice. The group appears to no longer exist.
During an appearance on Al-Hayat satellite channel, Sheikh Youssef al-Badry supported the idea, saying, “The promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is the job of prophets.”
He said that those who do so are “praised by God and those who do not are cursed.”
Badry said he was imprisoned for one year under former President Anwar Sadat after returning from Saudi Arabia because he secretly formed such a committee.
“Security bodies believed I was seeking to overthrow the regime,” he said.
Badry said he submitted a proposal to the government to establish the ministry. He also said he discussed the formation of a group for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice with ousted President Hosni Mubarak and secured his support.
Countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Iran have such committees, Badry said.
Abdel Fattah Asaker, an Islamic researcher and thinker who was also on the show, said, “The fact that Mubarak accepted the project shows that it was born dead.”
“The group in Saudi Arabia is hated by its own members,” Asaker added.
All groups formed under this name have failed, he said, adding that Islam does not require such a committee.
“We don’t want a committee, and Badry is talking about a ministry, whereby all violators would be sent to prison,” Asaker said.