The C-Men Do Some Good

I tend to spend a fair bit of time here in Thomo’s Hole pointing out the failings and the idiocy of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (or as I prefer to think of them, the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness – the muttawa). It seems, however, that the C-Men have actually done some good. The Arab News noted that the Virtue Commission’s Special Wing Fights Charlatans in an article today. It seems that the C-Men in Taif have

arrested 25 charlatans of both sexes following the establishment a year ago of a special anti-sorcery department in the agency’s local branch.

Fahd Al-Thubaiti, head of the department, said one of the 25 detainees was a Saudi. “People need to understand the danger of witchcraft and its negative effects on society in general. No one can be a good Muslim and believe in black magic at the same time,” he said.

OK, so more sorcery and black magic. The C-Men also noted that the centre

arrests both people that dabble in magic and also fraudsters who claim they have special skills. He said all agents of the department are qualified and have good background knowledge of religion. In addition, they take several training courses, he added.

Now I am impressed. The C-Men undertake special training courses and receive qualifications in recognising and dealing with black magic. I only hope that their interrogation techniques are better than their brethren in Riyadh. It seems, according to Al-Thubaiti, that there has been an increase in the number of witch doctors in the Kingdom due to television programs promoting magic. I am sure that the ladies from Charmed will be most impressed with the effect they have on the local population here.

What is really cute in this whole story is that the C-Men noted that it seems women are more attracted to black magic to ensure that their husbands love them and are not “playing any away games”. They also use the black magic to beget children. Well, apart from the fact that I wondered if anyone “begot” children anymore, I always thought that the act of begetting children had more to do with certain physical actions where the only Black Magic involved was a box of chocolates.

Woman Attacks Vice Cops With Pepper Spray

Following on from yesterday’s stupidity, the infamous C-Men (the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice or as I prefer to think of them, the Ministry for Lasciviousness and Licentiousness) have got in on the act. The Arab News reports two women calling them terrorists, one of them pepper spraying (“don’t spray me bro’”) whilst the other filmed it. The women’s crime? Being “dolled up”, which is a C-Men way of saying “they were wearing make-up”.

Sigh – what can I say – at least the C-Men did not beat these two to death as they have managed in their past efforts when accosting folks.

The C-Men also got into the Ramadan spirit and fun in Jeddah by banning

female shoppers from sitting in a makeshift outdoor restaurant to have their iftar meals in a low-income neighborhood in Jeddah because men were already seated at special tables set up for the fasting month

Such immorality. Such stupidity.

Ali Al-Hayyan, head of the commission’s Jeddah branch, said the agents’ actions were meant as a deterrent, “especially since some of the women were dolled up, and also to prevent the mixing of the sexes that could happen at such events and which our religion rejects,” the paper said.

This is their way of saying that the 12 million Muslims in Saudi Arabia have it right and the billion Muslims elsewhere in the world have it wrong when it comes to the mixing of sexes. What arrogance.

Of course, this is all going to make it easier to attract foreign businessmen to the Kingdom and attract investment, a stated government aim.

Read it all in the Arab News.

C-Men Avoid Court

I’ve mentioned the shenanigans of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Ministry of Lasciviousness and Licentiousness) here in Saudi Arabia before. I’ve mentioned the usual things, like beating suspects to death or scaring innocent men so much that they have heart attacks. However, one of their better efforts I mentioned before was in Riyadh when they abused a woman and her daughter, beating the family’s driver up and abusing the maid as well as kidnapping the women for a period of time, eventually wrecking the women’s car because, in the view of these evil men, the woman’s daughter’s eyes were not covered after coming out of an amusement arcade.

Use the search box here on Thomo’s Hole, searching “C-Men” for previous posts about these buffoons.

The woman, called Umm Faisal in the reports, has taken the Commission to court because their detention of her and her daughter for no reason has damaged her reputation.

A simple enough case you would think, except the Commission obviously sees itself above the law as they keep applying for one delay after another. They have so far delayed this case over four months. I guess they learned the last time when trying to bribe the family of the man beaten to death that many people have had enough of these foolish men. See the Arab News for the latest report.

The C-Men’s Current Scorecard

I’ve been a bit busy over the last couple of weeks and so this last week in particular, I have not really kept up with the news on my favourite Commission, the Saudi Arabian version of the Keystone Cops, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (or as we know them here in the Hole, the Ministry of Licentiousness and Lasciviousness … the C-Men).

So, what have they been up to this last week? Since I last wrote in detail about them someone published a positive article about the C-Men and their worthwhile efforts at rehabilitating a drug addict whilst reuniting him with his son. This was reported by Yousuf Muhammad in Virtue Commission ‘Saves’ Young Boy. Whilst this is a worthy thing for the C-Men to do, I can’t help but think there may be a big stick involved in this as well. Anyway, to be fair, that’s one thing on the plus register.

On the negative side? Well, there have been the odd item or 10. Read on below.
Continue reading

More Saudi Silliness – THAT Commission Again!

The buffoons who should be known as the Keystone Cops but are known here in the Kingdom as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (or the Ministry of Lasciviousness and Licentiousness – the C-Men) apart from running around killing people on dubious moral grounds (at least three in the last 6 weeks) are also responsible for one of the most absolute silliness’s I have ever encountered. Being tucked away here in Jeddah I am reasonably free to move around. Were I to be in Riyadh, however, I could not go to a shopping mall on Thursday or Friday unless I was accompanied by my wife (or I guess my mother ).

Yes, the C-Men have decided that single men in Riyadh are the most immoral in the world and the women of Riyadh need to be protected from them at the mall. The Arab News carried this piece today under the title Young Men Not Allowed by Ali Al-Zahrani which notes:

This is a sign [Young Men Not Allowed] that proudly hangs at the entrances of supermarkets and shopping malls across Riyadh, and is directed at all men above the age of 16. It is an annoying sign for many, especially since in some parts of the Kingdom this rule is not adhered to.

Many youngsters are fed up and are calling on security guards and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice to give them a break. One high school student told Arab News: “This is something we see wherever we go. Is this rule only applied to Riyadh? In Jeddah and the whole of the Eastern Province the situation is quite different.”

The article goes on to quote several younger (and older men) who have prevented from accessing shopping malls on the weekend. Interestingly one young man blamed young women for this problem and their tight fighting abayas.

The problem here is not the people but rather the buffoons who insist that Saudi folks are so evil and immoral that they must be treated this way. Just remember too that whilst single (read unaccompanied by a female relative) men are prevented from accessing the malls in Riyadh on the weekends, the women are being served by men inside those malls.  Stupid or what?

C-Men Not Cleared of One Murder

So yesterday I wrote that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (or as I prefer to think of them, the Ministry of Lasciviousness and Licentiousness – the C-Men) have been cleared of one of the recent murders that they have been involved in in the posting C-Men Cleared of One Murder. I also noted and asked a couple of questions, such as:

Well, I’ll ask the obvious question here – if there were 18 C-Men there for the raid, how come they couldn’t overpower the non-”official member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”? They seem to have just let it all happen.

But wait folks, there is worse to come. The governate noted that:

“Investigations have shown that other persons who are not official members of the commission and who had no right to participate in such actions are responsible,” the statement continued. “The responsibility for the man’s death rests with one of these persons and he will be transferred to a court to be tried according to our law.”

Again, it is one thing to transfer the guilty to a court for trial and judgement (and I laud this), but the underlying question of “what were ‘other persons … who had no right to participate in such actions’ doing there in the first place?” needs to be asked and hopefully answered.

Today’s Arab News noted in a piece titled Assailant of Huraisi Is a Commission Member:

Contrary to media reports yesterday, the man allegedly responsible for the death of Salman Al-Huraisi, who was in the custody of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, was a member of the commission.

The deputy president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Ibrahim Al-Huwaimil, said that the commission member had an administrative position and should not have taken part in the raid which resulted in Al-Huraisi’s death. In an interview with Orbit TV, Al-Huwaimil said: “He was a member of the commission. He was not a field member but had an administrative job.” This is the first time a member of the commission has been publicly held responsible for a death.

So now it is a case of Abdullah saying, “hey Ali, it’s pretty boring sitting at the desk all day, come out on a raid, it’ll be a hoot!”

It is fortunate that this Commission is not issued guns as there would not be enough newsprint in the the Kingdom to cover all the times the C-Men shot themselves in the foot.

C-Men Cleared of One Murder

That evil bunch, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (or as I prefer to think of them, the Ministry of Lasciviousness and Licentiousness – the C-Men) have been cleared of one of the recent murders that they have been involved in. The Arab News reports today in Commission Cleared in Huraisi Death that:

A Saudi man who is not an official member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice is being held responsible for the death in custody of a Saudi man last month, the Governorate of Riyadh said in a statement yesterday.

This was the group that broke into a Saudi family home in Riyadh because they believed that the family was involved in alcohol and drugs. One man was beaten to death, allegedly by the C-Men. However, the Governate of Riyadh has noted that it was not an official C-Man who did the deed but rather someone not a member of the C-Men who was along for the ride.

Is this a case of Abdullah the C-Man telephoning his mate Ali and saying “hey Ali, we got this big raid coming up, wanna come along for the craic?”

“Concerning the causes of death and the violations that took place, investigations of 18 official commission members who were detained have revealed that they had nothing to do with the man’s death,” said the governorate statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

Well, I’ll ask the obvious question here – if there were 18 C-Men there for the raid, how come they couldn’t overpower the non-“official member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”? They seem to have just let it all happen.

But wait folks, there is worse to come. The governate noted that:

“Investigations have shown that other persons who are not official members of the commission and who had no right to participate in such actions are responsible,” the statement continued. “The responsibility for the man’s death rests with one of these persons and he will be transferred to a court to be tried according to our law.”

Again, it is one thing to transfer the guilty to a court for trial and judgement (and I laud this), but the underlying question of “what were ‘other persons … who had no right to participate in such actions’ doing there in the first place?” needs to be asked and hopefully answered.

Some of the other problems of the C-Men have been mentioned on this blog before [Virtue Commission Member Calls for Fairness From People] so it is not the first time. The best thing though, is that there are these calls for a fair-go for the C-Men. Now in any other country, any Police Force that screwed up as badly as F-Troop attempting to counter-march would reamed from the top down – starting with the boss and working down the layers, getting rid of the inefficient or those with no ability, retraining (or in the case of the C-Men, training), generally overhauling the whole organisation from top to bottom.

Seems the Sheikh in charge of the C-Men ((Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ghaith)) has been caught out as well as he had previously denied publicly that any part-time commission workers were involved in raids. Part-time C-Men? How many countries have tried part-time policemen before and has it ever provided good law enforcement?

Al-Huraisi’s sister (Al-Huraisi is the deceased) has lodged a complaint with the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), Saudi Arabia’s NGO human rights body about treatment she and the family received, including the use of psychological pressure after their arrest (and form of torture, psychological or physical is illegal in Saudi Arabia). Saeed Al-Mastoor of the NSHR also said

that there were mistakes made during the arrests of female family members. “There should have been a female staff member present during the arrest. That is part of the law which specifies that no female member of a family is arrested or searched without a female staff member being present,” he said.

The only problem that I could see with this statement is that back on 21 June 2007 [Three C-Men on Trial for Custodial Death] the Shoura also discussed and voted on the proposition that the C-Men should become C-Persons by the addition of women. This was defeated. One of the members of the Shoura (Abdul Rahman Al-Dawood) noted that :

he opposes the idea because of the law requiring women of any age to be escorted by a legal guardian who is a relative by blood or marriage. “By hiring women in the virtue body, a mahram (male guardian) would be necessary as their work sometimes takes them to other far away areas,” he said.

So really, the C-Men are breaking Shariah law whenever they talk to or detain a woman … or is this a case of there being some female non-official members of the C-Men accompanying them from time to time – but no, it cannot be, they would need a mahram or they themselves would be breaking Shariah law.

Three C-Men on Trial for Custodial Death

I haven’t been updating the blog recently with the shenanigans of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (or as I prefer to think of them, the Commission for Lasciviousness and Licentiousness) – mostly because it has been more of the same from them.

Many Saudis have been writing in to the Saudi newspapers about them recently though, generally complaining about them. To be fair, I did read a letter from one fellow who wrote supporting them and pointing out that they were preserving Arab values – although he skipped the question of what is actually Arab and traditional about the abaya which is, after all, Syrian and only been present in the Kingdom for 80 years or so.

There was also a wonderful piece by Abeer Mishkhas, a woman I think, writing from London who both questioned the right of the C-Men to overstep their fatwa whilst at the same time defending the right of the press to ask difficult questions, to, in essence, hold those who overstep their bounds to public scrutiny, for the public good. This was published as Time to Rethink the Role of the Commission in the Arab News. She was answering the comments of another woman, Haya Al-Manie, in Objectivity, Media and Vice Police.

One gentle-person wrote a particularly nice piece of advice for the C-Men, titled Abuse of Authority it was written by Bushra Faisal Al-Sebaei from Okaz. It starts with:

Omar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph, said: “May God bless whomever presents me with my shortcomings and flaws.” Another famous proverb says, “Your friend is the one who tells you the truth.” With these as a starting point, we would like to discuss the recent media coverage of three events which provoked a great deal of public interest and comment. The three were the deaths of two men in centers belonging to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice and the maid who fell from a building in Jeddah when commission members raided her residence.

The piece goes on to note other efforts of the C-Men, such as:

There was also the incident of a young man in Manfuha who was beaten in public by commission members until his face bled and his clothes were ripped to pieces. After checking the man’s ID, the members apologized, saying it was all a case of mistaken identity.

The article does a wonderful job of eloquently and unemotionally discussing many of the more known troubles involving the Commission, going on then to talk about the Commission’s abuse of its authority (power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely ((Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887)) , finishing with the note:

There are always two aspects which facilitate abuse: The belief by the abusers that they can escape detection and punishment plus the lack of clearly-defined public rights under the power and control of authorities.

However, the news today is that 3 Commission Members to Be Tried for Custodial Death. This is in relation to the retired Border Patrol guy with the 12 kids who died when the C-Men arrested (sorry, detained) him and a young lady as being suspected of being a man and unrelated woman in illicit contact – like, getting into a car in a car-park. I mentioned this when I wrote about the Arab News article, Virtue Commission Member Calls for Fairness From People.

The Arab News notes:

In the first such incident in the Kingdom, three members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice will go on trial on Saturday for their involvement in the death of a Saudi man in their custody at a commission center in Tabuk three weeks ago.

This is one of two cases involving the virtue commission allegedly causing death of a Saudi.

This is well overdue. There are many recorded cases of people being beaten by these evil people (see Refused to attend a court hearing for example) when all these people are permitted to do is simply detain people and pass them over to the police.

There have been calls for reform but this seems to be slow coming. The good news today however is that the Shoura Rejects Proposals to Build More Virtue Centers.

The Shoura Council, Saudi Arabia’s appointed consultative council, voted yesterday on a number of measures related to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

The Council struck down a proposal to build more centers and to raise commission members’ wages by 20 percent. The Council approved a proposal to provide field operatives of the commission with radio communication equipment and to give them priority in government training programs.

My last word on this (for a while at least) is that the Shoura also discussed and voted on the proposition that the C-Men should become C-Persons by the addition of women. This was defeated. One of the members of the Shoura (Abdul Rahman Al-Dawood) noted that :

he opposes the idea because of the law requiring women of any age to be escorted by a legal guardian who is a relative by blood or marriage. “By hiring women in the virtue body, a mahram (male guardian) would be necessary as their work sometimes takes them to other far away areas,” he said.

Riyadh Governorate Confirms Probing Complaint Against Commission

Thomo’s favourite Ministry has been at it again. Yep, fresh on the heels of all the other recent silliness comes this story from the Arab News, Riyadh Governorate Confirms Probing Complaint Against Commission.

It seems that the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (or as I prefer to think of them, the Commission for Lasciviousness and Licentiousness) is being probed for the illegal detention of two young men. The Commission alleged that two young men were in possession of alcohol and had been in illicit contact with a 16 year old girl.

The term, “illicit contact” is Commission speak for “spoke to”. That is, these two young men were alleged to have spoken to a 16 year old girl and have a car full of booze.

The Commission men chased these two guys around Riyadh, eventually wrecking the young men’s car. Seems the Commission men (C-Men??) were in unmarked vehicles. When they stopped the young men, they found the car had no 16 year old girl in it and  no alcohol either – so they detained the young men for 48 hours, until their father found out about it and had them released.

The reason the young me were driving around? They were on the way to their sister’s wedding.

So, it looks like the C-Men have done it again. Silly. silly, silly!

Virtue Commission Member Calls for Fairness From People

Yes folks, my favourite Ministry, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (perhaps better labelled the Commission for Lasciviousness and Licentiousness), has called for a fair go. Why has it done this? Well, here is a chronicle of some of the efforts of its members over the past couple of months.

  • Shut down the Canadian stand at an education exhibition event because the Canadians were so vice-ridden by having actual women manning their stand
  • Refused to attend a court hearing after two women (a mother and her daughter) took them to court for beating their driver and damaging their car
  • broke into a man’s house (admittedly he had been drinking in this dry country and was allegedly a drug and alcohol dealer) and then subsequently beat him to death
  • detained a man who then died of a heart attack, probably from the stress, for the crime of allowing a non-related woman to enter his car (er, he was acting as a taxi driver for the woman and her guardians had arranged this by the way)

This Commission would be laughable if it was not so evil. It was formed in 1926 in Riyadh and is supposed to promote morality and traditional Arab values (whatever they are). Traditional Arab female dress, for example, does not include the abaya which was only introduced to Saudi Arabia in about 1932 from Syria. I would guess that they are not there to promote traditional Arab values as many more of these would predate Islam, but rather to punish those that they consider are not being Islamic enough in their view of Islam, as one of the criticisms they face is forcing people into mosques at prayer time for prayer.

All of this is un-Islamic however in that the Quran teaches Muslims to speak to people about Islam but also that people cannot be forced to listen.

The Media Officer for the Commission for Lasciviousness and Licentiousness noted when calling for a fair go that:

“In 2005, the commission dealt with more than 400,000 cases that involved 400,000 people. About 800,000 people were dealt with by being given advice on the spot,” said Al-Ahmadi, adding, “If the commission made a mistake in let’s say 100 of these cases, what is the percentage of the total number? Not even one percent.”

Well, on the mathematics of that argument (and remembering that the Commission has been operating for over 80 years now) 1,200,000 people had contact with the Commission in 2005. Saudi Arabia has a population of around 27,500,000 people of which about 5,500,000 are foreigners (from the CIA Factbook). This means that the Commission is touching the lives of just under 5% of the population each year. Given that they have been promoting Virtue for 80 years then they are failing abjectly and as such a big failure really, should be shut down in the interests of social efficiency.

As I mentioned at the start, these clowns would have to be considered as buffoons were it not for the fact that they do serious damage to peoples lives and they are un-Islamic.