Catalonia: Muslim 'Moral police'
Sources in the interior ministry involved in anti-terrorism say that the case of the alleged abduction and trial of a woman in Reus by Muslim fundamentalists is the most violent expression of the an increasingly disturbing phenomenon: fundamentalist groups of people who, with support of ultra-conservative mosques, assume the role of judge and police of Islamic morals and exert enormous social pressure on the Muslims in these towns.
The phenomenon, which for years has been manifesting itself in countries like France and the Netherlands [ed: I'm not sure where they got that last one from], has been detected in rural municipalities in the Camp de Tarragona area, as well as in villages in Gironès and Segarra.
This always happens in towns where the mosque is run by followers of Salafism, an ultra-conservative denomination, which believes in following the lifestyle of the Salaf (the first followers of Mohammed).
These people use their status in the community to shield their community and create a separate country, separated from the Catalan environment, which they consider ungodly. These mosques call on the faithful not to socialize with the Catalans, not to turn to their institutions (police, judges or associations), to only purchase halal products in Muslim shops, and not to use banks, since they charge interest. In addition they pressure parents not to allow their daughters to go to gym class or to the pool, and to take them out of school once they start menstruating.
These religious leaders exert enormous pressure on their community. A source in the security forces specializing in Islamic extremism says that if the mosque sermons are not enough, a group of people enters the scene to punish the unruly. These people apply in Catalonia the Islamic concept of hisba, morality police.
Many of these people got to Salafism from Tabligh, a peaceful Islamic movement based on dawa, appealing to other Muslims to abandon their life of sin. Tabligh members make this appeal peacefully, trying to convince without exerting pressure. The sources say that these people apply Tabligh logic but use violent actions.
An officer in the anti-terrorist unit of the security police says that though many victims don't dare to speak out, there have been numerous incidents in which the moral police have been involved. He says that women are the preferred targets of these groups. They make life impossible for those who are not veiled, using insults, threats and sometimes even violence. Sometimes the targets are the fathers or husbands of these women, who they scold in the street for allowing them to go unveiled. they've sometimes held them for several hours and beat them.
Judicial sources tell of a case in which a Moroccan teenager was beaten up for playing football with non-Muslim children and warn that these places of worship encourage parents to ban their children from socializing with Catalans.
In their obsession to separate Muslims from the rest of society, one of the main activities of these group is to go out to bars and look for Muslims who socialize with Catalan friends. They pressure them until they stop going, according to these sources, some are forced to grow beards and stop wearing jeans.
Source: elPeriódico.com (Spanish)
* Catalonia: Woman abducted, sentenced by Sharia court
* Catalonia: Salafists taking over mosques