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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saudi Vice, episode 15: The Evil Western Press


Our heroes at the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have been getting a lot of bad press recently, and it is time to put a stop to it:
Western media is deliberately trying to malign the commission for unknown reasons, said the national head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in a wide ranging interview with Arab News.

“Or else, why should a respectable institution be denigrated because a few of its officials committed some judgmental errors?” said Ibrahim Al-Ghaith, the commission president.
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The commission chief also wondered why some sections of the media, particularly in the West, are hostile to the commission, which only aims to persuade people to adhere to their religion and prevent them from morally lapsing.

“Some people are quick to criticize the commission by betraying their ignorance about this noble institution. They are oblivious to the commission’s achievements. They purposefully highlight a few individual mistakes to portray the commission as an evil entity,” Al-Ghaith said.

He added that he disapproves of the term “religious police,” which is commonly used by the Western press to describe the commission. “The official name of the organization is the General Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” Al-Ghaith said.

“The commission is keen to see that its officials are pious, knowledgeable, wise, moderate and gentle in all situations and, above all, never rude or violent,” he said.

“The commission has been offering special training to its field workers at all of its branch offices,” he said, adding that workers are asked to be gentle and told to improve their communication skills.

He also said that psychologists, sociologists, religious scholars, legal experts, educationists, professors and high-ranking officials deliver the training. “More than 80 percent of the commission’s field workers have attended various training programs."
We mentioned these training sessions in Episode 10, The Sting.
“Only five percent of cases we’ve dealt with were passed on to the police or the courts. The commission members are fully aware that publicity would only worsen the situation and leave ineffaceable social or psychological injuries to the youths involved. The members pass the suspects to legal authorities if only they are repeating the violation or do not listen to advice,” he added.

There are situations, which we cannot condone, he added. For example, if a man and woman are caught in a situation that is clearly spelled out in the Holy Qur’an or Sunnah to be wrong, then the commission has no choice but to hand those involved to the police, he said.
Do you see what a raw deal the Commission gets in the media?

Looking back at previous episodes, one can see that every single one was just a simple misunderstanding.