“In the name of God and with His blessing, the new official account of the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. We pray to God that everyone can have some benefit from it” – this is their first tweet. This initiative is immediately successful; the account gained 60k followers in just one day.
One of the aims of the Saudi religious police is to communicate and inform citizens “through its tweets”. For example, “guiding material to sensitize every social class” about their work. The spokesperson, sheikh Turki al-Shalil, declared to Al-Arabiya TV that the account was an idea of the General President of the organization, Sheikh Abdelrahman Abdallah al-Sanad, in order to get in touch with society and to highlight its activities and efforts.
The officers of the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are called mutawwiʿab and their task is to make people respect the Shari’a. In 2013, Saudi Arabia decided to limit its power and the police was not allowed anymore top “question or incriminate” the suspects, these tasks were in the hands opf the national police and ministers. This Committee exists because of what is written in the Koran “Amr bil Màruf wa Nahy an al Munkar”, which may be translated as “to promote virtue and prevent vice”. This is essential for Muslims, and it is up to the Umma – Islamic Community – to ensure it.
Translation provided by Mary Ann D’Costa