Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Afghanistan)

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Afghanistan's Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Amar Bil Maroof Wa Nahi An al-Munkar) was first instituted by the 1992 Rabbani regime, and adopted by the Taliban when they took power in 1996.[1] In the book Taliban by Ahmed Rashid the ministry is referred to as the Department of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Maulvi Qalamuddin, the head of the ministry during the Taliban era, preferred the English translation Department of Religious Observances.[2]

It was closed when the Taliban was ousted, but the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan reinstated it in 2003.[3]

Even though he has repeatedly distanced himself from the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam, Chief Justice Shinwari is an outspoken advocate of orthodoxy. With a background in religious matters only, Shinwari is seen as sympathetic to the pro-Wahhabist views of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a former mujaheddin commander and onetime associate of Osama bin Laden. Shinwari’s tenure as Chief Justice drew particular notice in 2003, when he reinstated the hated Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, renamed as the Ministry for Haj and Religious Affairs.

In 2006 the Karzai regime submitted draft legislation to create a new department, under the Ministry for Haj and Religious Affairs, devoted to the "Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice".[1] Radio Free Europe quoted many Afghans who greeted news of the draft with alarm. According to Radio Free Europe Ghazi Suleiman Hamed, the Deputy Minister for Haj and Religious Affairs, assurances that the new Department would operate more benignly than the Taliban version.[1]

The clerics want to help people to move toward God through any possible means, such as education, preaching, and encouragement. It doesn't mean that, like in the past, there will be a [special] police and that prison and clubs will be used [against violators].

Shukria Barakzai, a member of Afghanistan's National Legislature, greeted news of the legislation with the following comment.[1]

in a country where there are already several bodies to enforce security, why do we need another body whose authority is not clear yet. Are we moving again toward a Taliban government?


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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Golnaz Esfandiari (2006-07-18). "Afghanistan: Proposed Morality Department Recalls Taliban Times". Radio Free Europe. Archived from the original on 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  2. ^ Rashid, Ahmed. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. Yale University Press: New Haven, Connecticut. 2000. 105. ISBN 0-300-08340-8.
  3. ^ Claudio Franco (2004-12-07). "Despite Karzai election, Afghan conservatives soldier on". Eurasianet. Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 

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