King Abdullah replaces head of Saudi Arabia’s Islamic religious police

January 13, 2012

(Saudi members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or religious police, attend a training course in Riyadh September 1, 2007. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday replaced the head of the country’s morality police, which enforces compliance to Sharia law, at a time when some Saudis have complained that it is growing more aggressive. No reason was given for replacing Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humain with Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh in the royal decree, which was announced on the state news agency.

The morality police force is known formally as the organisation for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice. Its officers patrol the country’s streets making sure shops are closed at prayer times, that people are modestly dressed, and strict gender segregation is observed.

King Abdullah announced a large increase in the morality police’s budget in March. Some analysts saw the move as a reward for the religious establishment’s support during the Arab Spring uprisings. Some Saudis have said the organisation has grown more forceful in recent months, pointing to what they say is an increased street presence.

“What is being reported in the news shows us there is some aggressiveness. When they see something wrong they should report it to the police, not take action themselves. Society wants virtue to spread, but there should not be an invasion of people’s privacy,” said a human rights activist, who asked not to be named.

Members of the Al al-Sheikh family, who are direct descendents of Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of Saudi Arabia’s official and strict Wahhabi school of Islam, hold the roles of Grand Mufti, head of the advisory Shura Council and Islamic Affairs Minister.

The family is closely allied to the ruling Al Saud family in a relationship frequently cemented through marriage.

by Angus McDowall in Riyadh

via Saudi king replaces head of morality police.

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This article opens the way for questioning the manner that the birthplace of Islam has changed since Muhammad led the umma.
The primary question is; what form of government is favored by Islam? The Qur’an itself lays down the form of government. A government with a council has been emphasized. At the same time,Islam did not forget to place one man at the supreme command, responsible for efficient administration of the country. The man is elected by the umma for the people with the widest franchise. It did not lay down provision for a king, or that the son of the king would inherit ruling authority distinct from the common people. Muhammad did not select his successor. Abu Bakr was elected to be the first Caliph of Islam. After Abu Bakr’s death, Omar was elected and assumed the title Ameerul-Mu’menin. The Qur’an, Hadith and Fiqh gave a complete code of laws. To the true Muslim, a perfect code. The leader, including Muhammad had a council of ministers to advise him on Sharia Law. The King’s use of muhabarat (secret police) may well be the undoing of the House of Saud. Perhaps the Arab Spring is not over.

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