The ‘Five Red Lines’ Saudis Must Not Cross
Arab News carries an article reporting on an admonition given by Sheikh Abul Latif Al-Asheikh, President of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, to its members. Calm down and focus on your jobs, not your personal preferences. Don’t abuse your power. He reminded them that they are not superior beings, that the people that are meant to assist in leading good lives are their brothers and sisters, mothers and children.
He also said that the actions of a religious policeman made notorious by a YouTube video capturing his haranguing of a woman for wearing nail polish in a mall were utterly out of line. He implied that there is no reward simply for rousting the greatest number of people.
See the video here.
Interestingly, he pointed out the ‘five red lines’ of behavior they should be focusing on:
Al-Asheikh also spoke about the five red lines that must not be crossed and urged Haia members not to allow anybody to violate them or deal with perpetrators discreetly. The first is related to Islamic ideology. The second is blackmail, while the third is practicing black magic and sorcery or benefiting from the wealth of others illegally. He said human trafficking is the fourth while disobeying rulers is the fifth.
I’m not keen on the ‘black magic and sorcery’ detail. This, I think, is far too subjective a matter to be left to random police, or even formal courts, for that matter. Whatever crimes might be committed under that rubric can also be identified as crimes under civil law, including for fraud and theft. Still, it’s good to see what the President views as circumscribing their action.
Haia chief asks staff to be lenient
RIYADH: ARAB NEWS
The president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) urged its members to show leniency to people and strive to remove fear and wrong impressions about the commission among members of society.
While warning the Haia members against abuse of power and heavy-handedness, Sheikh Abdul Latif Al-Asheikh cautioned them not to allow anybody to violate the fundamentals of religion or the so-called “five red lines,” Al-Watan Arabic daily reported yesterday.
Addressing a meeting of the Haia branch chiefs from various regions of Riyadh province here on Sunday, Al-Asheikh recalled the advice of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah when he met him just after he assumed his duties. The Haia chief could no longer control his emotions and sobbed in front of the audience when he mentioned the king’s words: “Beware, don’t do any harm or cause harassment to citizens. Show mercy to those erroneous and don’t exceed proper bounds in the case of suspects. Always advise people gently.”
- Manal’s Speech: Three Lines of Attack by Saudis EMAN AL NAFJAN: The 17 minute speech that Manal Al Sharif delivered on receiving the Vaclav Havel Prize last week has unleashed a hail of vitriol ...
- New Head of Saudi Religious Police: A Moderate? CROSSROADS ARABIA: A well known supporter of the right of women to work Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh still has a traditional view of their place within Saudi society. ...
- Saudi Religious Police Have Their Powers Reduced CROSSROADS ARABIA: Too often they appear to act as an ill-disciplined militia but their powers have been dramatically curtailed. ...
- Offended Saudis: U.S Comedienne ‘Crosses the Line’ AHMED AL OMRAN: The American comedienne Chelsea Handler has stirred up a hornet's nest of indignation in Saudi Arabia ...
- Fines, Floggings and Jail for Female Harassers CROSSROADS ARABIA: The Saudi Authorities have decided to crack down hard on young men who harass women in the Kingdom. ...
- Virtue in the Kingdom: Profile of New President AHMED AL OMRAN: The new President of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has his work cut out. ...
Crossroads Arabia is written by a former US foreign service officer who has had two tours in Saudi Arabia, 1981-83, 2001-03, who reads and speaks Arabic and has spent the bulk of his career in the Middle East, with assignments in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain in addition to those in the KSA.