Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Volunteer “morality police” in Egypt have ordered taser weapons to help “defend” themselves against citizens whose behavior in public doesn’t align with Islamic teachings, according to a report.
The morality police have arisen in the wake of the “Arab Spring” that has swept across the Middle East and Northern Africa and removed moderately West-friendly regimes, opening the political process to Islamic parties.
The Egyptian force is acquiring 1,000 of the taser weapons to “promote virtue” on the streets and byways, according to the English-language Ahram Online website, produced by the publisher of the daily Al-Ahram, the Middle East’s oldest newspaper. It has been published since 1875.
Ahram noted that the report came from the Facebook page of the Morality Police in Egypt.
The report said the morality police models itself on a similar group in Saudi Arabia that monitors citizens social behavior.
The batons, according to the group’s announcement “will help in self-defense in any possible attacks on volunteers, adding that volunteers would be instructed to use the tasers only in ‘extremely necessary’ situations.”
Ahram reported that the first training session for volunteers who will be armed will be in the El-Mandara neighborhood in Alexandria, Egypt.
The report said Islamist and organized Salafist influences, such as the Nour Party, are not accepting credit or responsibility for the morality police, an entity that appeared online shortly after the Islamic takeover in Egypt.
But a group called the “Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice” in a recent statement said it would preserve the “morals” of Egypt by following Shariah, which is Islamic religious law, the website said.
Ahram previously reported that millions of Egyptians approve of the work being done by the “Committee.”
Egypt has seen an increase in violence, particularly against Christians, since last year when President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime ally of the United States, was forced to step down amid mass protests.
In Egypt’s transition from military to civilian rule, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic parties have won more than 60 percent of the seats in voting for the lower house of Egypt’s parliament, which finished this week.
In Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive Muslim nations, where Islam is the law of the land, there is a Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Elimination of Sin. It’s sponsored by the government and employs “Mutaween,” or “religious police,” to enforce Shariah.
In 2002, Saudi Arabia’s “religious police,” the Mutaween, caused 15 young girls to die when a fire broke out in their school in Mecca. The religious police literally blocked firefighters from saving the girls because they weren’t dressed in the proper Islamic way for girls and women to be seen outdoors. With helpless firemen watching, the Mutaween literally beat the girls – those who were not wearing their headscarves or abayas – back into the inferno.
WND reported earlier this month on another of the results of the “Arab Spring” revolutions.
Egypt ranked 15th among the worst nations in the world in 2011 for persecution of Christians, and other Muslim nations filled out nine of the top 10 spots on the list.
“Being a Muslim background believer or ‘Secret believer’ Christian in a Muslim-dominated country is a huge challenge. Christians often face persecution from extremists, the government, their community and even their own families,” said Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA, which compiled the list.
Moeller said that “while many thought the Arab Spring would bring increased freedom, including religious freedom for minorities, that certainly has not been the case so far.”
Barnabas Aid, an international human rights group, said Islamic factions jockeying for position in the ashes of the Arab Spring uprisings are a threat to Christians throughout the Middle East.
Barnabas Aid wrote in its December prayer alert that there is cause for concern for Iran’s persecuted believers, because Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei recently urged more than 2.5 million Muslims on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to form “an international Islamic power bloc.”
The Ayatollah Khamenei told the listeners the Arab Spring was guided by Islam and said Muslims worldwide should rally to the Islamic cause.
The prayer alert also said the Iranian leader called on Muslims “to make the most of the opportunity” created by the Arab Spring, as well as the anti-capitalist “Occupy” movement across the world.
Nations impacted by the “Arab Spring,” besides Egypt, have included Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, with lesser degrees of activity in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Mauritania.