When Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Humayen was appointed head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice [CPVPV] he began his time in his new position by sending out positive signals, saying that the principle of good intentions would prevail and that he intended to follow Omar Ibn al-Khattab’s saying that “it is better to forgive and be wrong than to punish and be wrong.” He also said that the CPVPV members would not mistakenly accuse people, adding that “anybody can make a mistake and we will try to work as much as we can to avoid making any mistakes.”
On the day of Sheikh Bin Humayen’s appointment, I, along with some other writers, wrote that these signals should be acknowledged and indeed celebrated by society and the media. I wrote that I wished that the ideas, views, and vision put forward by the head of the CPVPV, along with the good intention of its members – many of whom are distinguished – would result in the next stage witnessing the CPVPV not exceeding the limits of its power and controlling the measures that it undertakes. I remain convinced that the head of the CPVPV truly had all of these good intentions when he was first assigned to his position, however perhaps things did not go according to plan for Sheikh Bin Humayen and other CPVPV officials and some problems continue to surface in the press. The most recent of these problems was the news that a group of people were stopped by the CPVPV in the street and questioned about the women in their company. Another story was that the CPVPV stormed the roof of a Medina building to investigate a case of gender mixing, however before they could arrest the couple in question they jumped from the roof of the building in order to escape arrest. There is also the story about a girl from Tabuk who was arrested and taken into custody by the CPVPV where she was questioned at the CPVPV headquarters before she was rescued by people praying in a nearby mosque who responded to her calls for help.
The same role undertaken by the CPVPV in Saudi Arabia is fulfilled in other countries by different bodies using different names, such as “the morality police” and others, and they have a different approach and criteria than that of the CPVPV. As for the CPVPV, this has been set up in accordance with divine law, and only committed religious scholars with knowledge of Islamic Shariaa Law and a desire for social reform are entrusted with this job. The CPVPV’s name reflects its role to promote virtue and prevent vice. The term “virtue” in this case has significant linguistic and psychological implications that are known to everybody and in effect means righteousness or a righteous approach.
What I want to say that it is the duty of the CPVPV presidency to act strongly against those of its members who have been incriminated in order to ensure that this minority does not defame or diminish the role played by the CPVPV at large. The Human Rights committee that is affiliated to the CPVPV’s Legal Affairs department and which ensures the dignity and civil rights of those arrested by the CPVPV should move towards achieving its objectives and condemn the CPVPV members who do not abide by this system. However tighter supervision, a desire for development, and training programs for CPVPV members would also help the CPVPV to avoid some mistakes that occur during operations in the field and ensure that the image of the CPVPV remains pure.