Authority for the Promotion of Virtue


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At times appearing beneath a banner with the name "The Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria," a man referred to as Abu Sulayman introduces "The Committee for the Protection of Virtue and Defense of the Oppressed." The name of this committee is similar to that of the police that enforce Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia, called, "The Committee for the Protection of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice." In his statement, Mr. Sulayman describes the provision of aid and the provision of security and policing as two core aspects of the committee's mission. Following his statement are a series of brief interviews, including people seeking assistance from the committee as well as a member of the committee apparently interacting with one of their detainees in a temporary holding cell.

Partial transcription below. Full transcription, including time code, is available on request.

[Transcript from the video statement]: We are members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Defense of the Oppressed. We work primarily on security and policing. Our security arm operates throughout all of the liberated areas. As everyone knows, many violations and crimes have occurred and are occurring at the hands of both civilians and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

God willing, we will now be able to provide security by utilizing our committee's Islamic civilian police force so that we might stand against all criminals and violators who would damage public or private property. As far as our security and policing operations in the liberated areas, we go on patrols, set up checkpoints and send committee forces to provide the security and curb theft and other transgressions.

We always seek peaceful solutions, especially when it involves any armed groups (FSA members), by sending respected religious authorities to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. If this approach does not succeed, then we use force to arrest the offending party, whether it is an individual or a group. The offender is then brought to our Sharia Law Committee.

As mentioned, our work in this committee is multi-faceted, and includes providing assistance to those in need. The aid side is a very important aspect of our work.

[Excerpts from the interviews]:

[A civilian woman]: I have come here because my children are hungry and I am hungry, and we have been for the past 3 months; and for 3 months they have been promising assistance, and I haven't seen anything. My cousin came here asking for a house and they haven't provided her with one.

[Mr. Sulayman, speaking to one of the religious authorities, apparently also on the committee]: "To avoid the temptation that a woman living alone can introduce in the community, we need to provide this woman with a home."

[Mr. Sulayman, speaking to the same woman, who has approached the committee for housing assistance]: "Take care of your home (don't break sharia law), be a good muslim, keep your children with you, and we will provide you with a house."

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