Following the Egyptian revolution, which granted freedom of expression and assembly to many elements – especially to Islamist circles that were suppressed since the Nasserist Free Officers Revolution of July 1952 – a religious police force was recently established in Egypt. Dubbed “The Authority for Commanding Good and Forbidding Evil,” similarly to the Saudi religious police, it aims to enforce compliance with Islamic shari’a. However, unlike the Saudi religious police this force does not operate on behalf of the state. In fact, it is unclear precisely who is behind it. Its Facebook page, launched December 25, 2011, states that its founders are members of the Salafi Al-Nour party, “the closest party to Allah’s shari’a,” but that they are not working on its behalf, or on behalf of any other political party. The page features many links to Al-Nour Facebook pages, and its founders seem to support the Islamist presidential candidate Hazem Abu Isma’il. It states that the religious police will not use violence or coercion, but rather dialogue and guidance, in performing its tasks. The page has thousands of followers, and has thus far published eight official statements from the religious police.
For example, on December 26, 2011, the Facebook page featured an announcement about 1,000 available jobs in the religious police, intended for citizens aged 25-40, with preference for Al-Azhar graduates. Another announcement on the same day detailed the functions of the religious police: supervising proper behavior by citizens; encouraging citizens to attend prayers, and merchants to close shop during prayer time; ensuring that tourists respect the customs of Egyptian society and the commandments of the Islamic faith; reporting shari’a violators to the authorities; and establishing popular committees to protect against theft and regulate traffic. It was announced that members of the police force would wear a white robe with a religious police emblem and would carry electric prods, and that the police is considering employing female officers in places frequented by women.