Feature

Return of the vice squad

The week's news at a glance.

Kabul

Morality monitors are back in Afghanistan. The government of President Hamid Karzai has begun cracking down on “un-Islamic” activities such as drinking. In the past month, police raids have closed down bars across Kabul, and dozens of suspected prostitutes have been deported. The Cabinet has even proposed reinstating the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Discouragement of Vice, a body that under the Taliban was notorious for whipping men whose beards were too short or women whose veils showed their faces. Officials insist that the agents would serve as gentle reminders, not punitive enforcers. “We would not beat people or force women to wear scarves,” said Interior Ministry official Abdul Jabbar Sabit. “But we have to do something to protect society, to tell people they should not drink alcohol or smoke hashish.”

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