The god squads

A new Pew report on some 2012 data: there are at least 17 countries in the world where the police enforce religious norms.

in Malaysia, state Islamic religious enforcement officers and police carried out raids to enforce sharia law against indecent dress, banned publications, alcohol consumption and khalwat (close proximity to a member of the opposite sex), according to the U.S. State Department.

And in sub-Saharan Africa, two countries in the region (Nigeria and Somalia) have religious police. In Nigeria, the Hisbah (religious police) are funded and supported by governments in several states, where they enforce their interpretation of sharia law.

Pew’s graphic makes the situation rather vivid.



  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Afghanistan doesn’t have cops enforcing God’s rules? Nor Bangladesh? Nor Uganda? Nor Israel?

  2. says

    In Greece they have religious judges appointed by the government in the northeast of the country to enforce sharia law (the muftis). So I guess that is why they’re not on the list.

  3. says

    @Pierce #1 – I the issue is sponsorship by the government. The gangs in Israel are funded and supplied by ultra-orthodox synagogues, schools and political parties, but receive no official recognition or support from the government. I suspect it is the same situation in the other countries you mentioned.

  4. Ned Hamson says

    What about all the nations that do not allow abortions or forms of birth control…

  5. Abdul Alhazred says

    Afghanistan doesn’t have cops enforcing God’s rules? Nor Bangladesh? Nor Uganda? Nor Israel?

    The “official” (and mostly powerless) govenment of Afghanistan? No.

    Uganda — Technically the anti-gay laws are secular. Not unlike the anti-gay laws that once existed in the USA.

    Israel. Nope. No religious cops. Religious civil courts yes. But you can be openly gay and eat pork in a restaurant etc.

    Bangladesh — I don’t know.

  6. says

    Police in Greece enforces the blasphemy laws…does that count as a “religious norm”? (I mean I guess it’s not like watching who’s eating at daytime at Ramadan, but still pretty messed up IMO)

  7. monad says

    @3 busterggi:
    Sorta, and yet also India – which does have a lot of Muslims, but enforcing religious norms isn’t all on them – Vietnam and the Maldives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *