SILVER LININGThe virtue guards are coming! [Archives:2008/1158/Opinion]

May 26 2008

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Gracious are the Yemeni people. They will soon have guards to promote virtue and curb vice. A group of clerics led by Sheikh Abdulmajid Al-Zindani, rector of the Islamic Al-Iman University, recently spoke to President Ali Abdullah Saleh about setting up a national committee for promotion of virtue and prevention of vice. This information was announced recently by Hamud Hashim Al-Tharhi, a leading figure in the Islah party.

Al-Zindani and his fellows alleged that vice and debauchery has dominated the country. According to Al-Tharhi, the committee will involve the Ministers of Culture, Tourism and Information among others.

It has the same orientation as the anti-vice organization operating in Saudi Arabia for decades. While the Saudis are now trying to curb the activities of this organization as a part of their fight against terrorism and religious fanaticism, Yemen is just starting to allow it.

This is the latest invention of Al-Zindani following his allegations of his successful invention of a cure for HIV/AIDS. This man who has been once a cleric in the presidential council representing the Islah party in the then-coalition government is mad for publicity and seeing himself on camera. Following his ousting from the position as head of the Islah party's Shura Council, he has been frantically trying to keep himself on camera in his effort to remain a public figure. He has been leading protests against the Israeli attacks on Palestinians and protests against the Danish cartoons.

However, he and his religious cohorts have kept mysteriously mute and have never deigned to criticize any of the government's wrongdoings. They have never spoken out about corruption, which is the biggest challenge for development in the country, about price hikes, which have starved thousands more Yemenis, the diesel shortage or any other major ailments that affect the daily lives of citizens.

These are not their concerns as religious people. Their major concern is to have a corps of “religious police”” to harass people in the streets