Virtue Protection Authority:Between religion and politics [Archives:2008/1180/Opinion]

August 11 2008

Mustafa Ahmad Al-Numan
The former U.S. President Harry Truman issued in 1947 the Executive Order No. 9835 under which each American citizen was exposed to questioning about his/her activities, viewpoints and intents. Several auditing committees were formed to be in charge of interrogating any individuals promoting secular ideas.

That time period was described as 'Macarthy', derived from the name of Senator George Macarthy despite the fact that it was Edgar Hoofer, President of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who played an effective role in issuing the Executive Order. And the relevant campaign involved workers in the areas of media and arts, who had become subjected to questioning and interrogation for their ideas and intents.

It was usual to accuse anyone opposing the campaign of being Secularist or a hired individual while Macarthy justified at that time that members of the American Secular Party numbered up to 50,000 in 1942. This provoked rage and concern among extremists, thereby coinciding with dominance of the Red Army in China in 1949 and the First Nuke Experiment by the Soviet Union in the same year.

When the Secular risk reached its climatic point, the Macarshies talked excessively about it in order to intimidate those differing with their viewpoints and opposing their policies.

Over the last few weeks, the intellectual and political arenas in Yemen inflamed after Mr. Abdulmajeed Al-Zindani and Mr. Hamoud Hashim Al-Dharihi declared the so-called 'Virtue Protection Authority', which is merely a replica of the well-known Saudi Committee to Promote Goodness and Prevent Evil. The notable difference between both organizations is that the latter pursues official business and receives funds from the Saudi government.

The former, however, appeared during its first meeting to have an intention of helping traditional forces in society. The government and other political and intellectual forces, even leaders of the Islah Party to which Al-Zindani and Al-Dharihi belong, were excluded from the meeting.

The idea of “Virtue Protection” has been infected with deformity since it was established. Mr. Al-Dharihi turned to slam critics of Virtue Protection Authority, using an irresponsible language. He used statements and words, which are hardly said by a man claiming to promote goodness and prevent evil.

Al-Dharihi's behavior compelled senior leaders in the Islamist party to leave him chat with other Parliament members, affiliated with the extremist Islamist current. The leaked information confirms that higher leadership of the Islah Party denounced behavior of Al-Zindani and Al-Dharihi, labeling it as irresponsible.

The Islah Party's position was viewed as a positive and successful action. It restored confidence to supporters of this party that it is more able to adapt with the pervasive social conditions and welcome the differing viewpoints.

Absence of the highly respected scholar Yasin Abdulaziz Al-Qubati and all Islah Party leaders from the conference is a clear and strong indicator that the idea of both Al-Zindani and Al-Dharihi faced strong objection. The idea was labeled as a hurried action and is aimed at creating an atmosphere of animosity between members of Yemeni society.

Protecting virtue in any society is not the responsibility of a certain group though very strong it appears to be and though a huge number of supporters it has. The state and its Constitution are the only responsible for enacting such laws meant to protect society from evil and suggest workable solutions to evil-related issues if any.