Mawlawi Mujibur Rahman Ansari, head of Herat’s Gazargah mosque, on Thursday defended his move to put up billboards insisting that women wear hijabs--head scarves-- and his creation of the center of “Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.”
Ansari's installation of the pro-Hijab banners sparked an outcry on social media with many calling the controversial move “extremist" and “misogynist."
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Ansari said that the center for “Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” will hand over transgressors to the security institutions after issuing Sharia (Islamic) verdicts on them.
“The center of Amri-Belmarof-wa-Nahi Azmunkar (“Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”), has neither declared it is with the government nor has it announced its freedom or separation from the government--we will simply hand over all those criminals to the government-- in close coordination with the government--so that the law can decide their fate,” said Ansari.
Ansari also confirmed that the center for “Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice” was established 20 days ago and all banners were installed in Herat by the same center.
Female journalists were not allowed to cover his press conference.
“The reasons that today we asked our sisters not to attend the conference is that we want them to work on those areas that are in compliance with the Islamic laws, because we are here to defend their honor and dignity, not to harm their dignity and prestige,” said Ansari.
Journalist community reacts:
“This goes to his (Ansari's) personal ideas, I think there are no restrictions for women to cover the programs,” said Masooma Haidari, a local journalist in Herat.
“This is an insult to female journalists who dress properly--they (female journalists) never wore dresses that are in contrast to the Islamic laws,” said Atifa Ghafoorzai, a female journalist.
“It is good that our respected scholars come up with their narratives that have been assigned to them by Islam, but they should manage all these in cooperation with the government’s legal and judicial institutions,” said Monisa Hassan, the deputy of Herat's governor.
Local officials in Herat, including officials from the department of pilgrimage, have said that Islam strongly values and supports women and that no authority is allowed to implement the laws on their own.