You call that “Light”?

Just what Egypt needs – a mutawiyin like the one the lucky people in Saudi Arabia have.

The radical Islamist Nour party, or “Party of the Light,” has captured more than a quarter of votes in the post-Mubarak Egyptian elections. Nour, which ran second to the Muslim Brotherhood in the polling, is a Wahhabi party, reproducing the ideology of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, under the label of “Salafism.” Its rhetoric presents “Salafism” as pure Islam unchanged by 14 centuries of Muslim history in differing lands and cultures worldwide. Nour is hostile to non-Wahhabi Muslims, repressive of women’s rights, and discriminatory against non-Muslims.

The Saudi mutawiyin or “morals patrols” – sometimes miscalled a “religious police” – coordinated by the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV),” are one of the most criticized institutions in the Saudi kingdom. Known as the “mutawiyin” or “volunteers,” and as the “hai’a” or “the Commission,” this militia is composed of at least 5,000 full-time members, assisted by thousands of more ordinary Saudis. Armed with thin, leather-covered sticks, they patrol Saudi cities enforcing the strictures of Wahhabi ideology. They descend on and harass women who are not fully covered below the ankle by the black cloak or abaya, and who go out in public without a face veil or niqab. They interfere with couples whom they suspect of being unmarried or otherwise unrelated. They prevent women from driving motor vehicles. They raid private homes looking for evidence of alcohol consumption. And not least, they disturb the prayers of Shias and Sunni Sufi Muslims whose forms of devotion are disapproved of by the Wahhabis.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand guess what.

The unexpected rise of Nour has left non-Muslim as well as Muslim commentators shocked and, in many cases, silent. But the Egyptian supporters of Wahhabism have wasted no time in demanding the importation of retrograde Saudi customs into Egypt. Egyptian Wahhabis have now called for the introduction of so-called “Morals Patrols” on the Saudi model.

They don’t have the numbers, by themselves…yet. But if the MB joins them in this benevolent demand – Egypt is screwed.


  1. Greisha says

    Why anybody is surprised? It seems that Islam was at least one of the leading forces.

    Democracy is not an elections – we had illustration to that in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and now in Egypt.

  2. Egbert says

    I think many of us were pessimistic. Long term Democracy requires some fundamental values like freedom, equality and so on, values that are opposite to Islam. That is why we won’t see the liberalization of the Arab world any time soon.

  3. John says

    Democracy happens when the general public speaks.

    A democracy, then, is only as good as the values, ideals and ethics that inform those participating in it.

    40% of Egyptians are completely illiterate.

    The outcome of the Egypt’s election isn’t at all surprising.

    What is very worrisome is the fact that Washington has sent high level State Dep’t officials to open talks with the Muslim Brotherhood and other salafist groups

    I fear that many western gov’t (ostensibly secular and in favour of human rights etc) will end up financing and subsidising, through various food-aid and foreign aid schemes, the implantation of multiple misogynistic, anti-semitic, homophobic, clerical-fascist régimes in the region.

    We’re slowly being set up for that.

    Our tax dollars will help pay the salries of policemen performing “virginity tests” on uppity women.

    This will probably happen no matter who wins the elections in Nov.

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