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Arab Union for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In light of the recent calls adopted by civil and parliamentary institutions in Kuwait and Yemen for the establishment of a Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice [CPVPV] in their own countries, in the example of Saudi Arabia. This call is strongly echoed in Morocco, Egypt, and throughout a number of other Arab countries. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that these supervisory bodies will be established in these countries, and then will cooperate and coordinate with one another to form a federation or union, such as the Arab Literary Academy, Arab Legal Federation or the Arab Federation of Sports.

What is noteworthy is that at the same time that civil organizations in these Arab states yearn to follow the example of Saudi Arabia and establish a supervisory body like the CPVPV to protect the community from human decadence, and the spreading of immorality, and the impact this both has on the youth in Arab countries, there are voices in Saudi Arabia – although not consistent with public opinion there- who believe that the CPVPV has become a vestige of the past, and that the era of globalization and the spread of the culture of human rights can no longer tolerate the existence of a supervisory body that “interferes” in personal affairs, and stands in the face of their privacy and their desires.

However in one of his recent decrees King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz has resolved the controversy revolving around the CPVPV, raising the slogan “No to its cancellation; Yes to its reform” and pumping new blood into the Committee in order to strengthen its role, and leave behind its negative image.

The crisis of crises for an Arab intellectual regards how to deal with his opponents under the maxim “Either to be a Devil or a Saint” however with regards to some of our intellectuals there is no difference between these two, and things are reduced to either being black or white. This is why whenever talk comes to the practices of the CPVPV in Saudi Arabia objective and clam criticism is thrown out of the window in many cases, and instead you find many who want to pull [the CPVPV] out by its roots because of mistakes made in its implementation; similar mistakes which can be found in any governmental agency.

On the other hand there are those who attempt to sanctify such agencies, and justify their mistakes, even if in some mistakes these mistakes are very clear, and contrary to the precepts of Shariaa Law with regards to promoting virtue, and preventing vice.

Therefore we are encouraged by the new leadership in the CPVPV that will listen to comments and criticism regardless of its source; this new leadership must also pay attention to the rehabilitation of its cadres, especially its field-agents, requiring them to take orientation and training courses.

“Foolish” and “indulgers of depravity” and” deviants from the Ummah” and “Sheiks for sale” are just some of the descriptions attributed to one of the Yemeni Sheiks who supports the establishment of a Yemeni version of the CPVPV under the name “the National Committee for the Protection of Virtue.” I believe that such a harsh attack, using such cruel description –if true- indicates that the climate is not favorable for the establishment of such supervisory institutions, because there are those who are ignorant of the true role that the CPVPV plays in the strengthening of security, and the consolidation of virtue, as well as in the fight against drugs, prostitution, and alcohol. And so we must treat the agents of such supervisory institutes with patience, self-restraint and tolerance, in order to benefit from them. And it is not appropriate that the criticism faced by the CPVPV from even its most harsh critics be malicious [in this way].

For the greatest evil [perhaps ever committed] was the [false] divinity which the Pharaoh draped himself in, yet in spite of this the divine commandment given to Moses and Aaron from God was “But speak to him mildly, perchance he may take warning or fear (Allah)” [Sura Taha, Verse 44]. And so with compassion and patience, a speaker may be able to achieve his aims, which cannot be achieved in a different way, and so if the supporters for supervisory bodies in each Arab country conducted themselves in this way we would see institutes for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on the rise [in Arab countries], even if under different names.

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Dr. Hamad Al-Majid is a journalist and former member of the official Saudi National Organization for Human Rights. Dr. Al-Majid is a graduate of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and holds an MA from the University of California and a doctorate from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

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