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Religious police in Yemen are illegitimate - scholar.

Sana'a: A Yemeni religious scholar issued a warning on Monday against self-proclaimed religious police that have been roaming the streets of Yemen using sticks to enforce strict religious interpretations on citizens.

"We condemn those who hide under the cloak of promoting virtue and preventing vice," Yahya Al Najar, a member of the Yemeni scholars association, told reporters.

Al Najar said that those self-proclaimed police were in fact, illegitimate.

"The promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice is done in the mosques and not in the streets," Al Najar added. Those religious hardliners lost many followers because of their rigid way of interpreting Islam and are now using force to bring people back, Al Najar explained.

He said he thinks the self-proclaimed religious police have received encouragement from some Salafi extremist scholars who have been trying to establish an order of "virtue and prevention of vice" similar to the one in Saudi Arabia.

The actions of the self-proclaimed religious police have been met by much criticism from human rights groups and journalists monitoring the situation.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Aug 19, 2008
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