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ISIS Deploys 'Morality Police' in Egypt's Sinai to Tackle 'Sin and Vice'

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Watch as CBN News Chief International Reporter Gary Lane describes the role Sharia police play in Islamic countries like Egypt and Indonesia

Imagine a place where adulterers are stoned to death and for engaging in premarital sex you receive one hundred lashes.

Several years ago, CBN News traveled to Indonesia, to report on a province that had deployed hundreds of Muslims to patrol the streets to guard against these and other so-called 'sin and vices' forbidden under Islam.

CBN News documented as dozens of men and women from a special religious police unit went about enforcing Islamic law, known as sharia, across the Acehnese provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

Now, Muslim radicals with the Islamic State are deploying similar tactics in Egypt's Sinai region.

A Reuters investigation found that ISIS "has created a morality police force, known as a Hisba, to enforce strict rules against such behavior as smoking, men shaving their beards or women exposing their faces."

"I saw them forcing the driver from the vehicle and stripping the upper part of his clothing before tying him to the door of one of their cars," Shaher Saeed told Reuters. "They hit him on the back more than 10 times, then burned all the cartons of cigarettes…They let him go after warning him not to trade cigarettes again."

The move comes as Egypt's minority Christians continue to experience a wave of attacks by radical Muslims.

In early February, ISIS released a video warning that Christians in Egypt were their "favorite prey" and promised to wage a war in Egypt similar to that in nearby Iraq and Syria.

Then last month, ISIS militants killed more that 45 people in two church bombings on Palm Sunday, prompting Egypt's president to declare a state of emergency.

Pope Francis, who visited Egypt last week, called on Christians to show a "fanaticism of charity" to those who pepetrate evil in the name of religion.

"Any other type of fanaticism does not come from God, and is not pleasing to him," Francis warned.

"True faith is one that makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more makes us see the other not as an enemy to be overcome but a brother or sister to be loved, served and helped."

Francis urged Muslims to embrace peace and coexistence with Christians.

"As religious leaders, we are called, therefore, to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity," the pope during an address at Cairo's Al Azhar university.

"We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God."

But some experts worry this new campaign against Christians is a part of "an effort to tear at the fabric of society and state when other means had failed."

"A confluence of factors has seen this escalation happen now," Mokhtar Awad of George Washington University told Reuters. "They hope that this is the first step to basically unravel the country."

Christians are at least ten percent of the Egyptian population of 88-million people. Often they experience discrimination in the Muslim-dominated society. Many have faced persecution and death.

Extremists have attacked their churches and have destroyed their homes and business.







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About The Author

George Thomas Headshot

Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and of Indian descent, CBN News’ Senior International Correspondent and Co-Anchor, George Thomas, has been traveling the globe for more than 20 years, finding the stories of people, conflicts, and issues that must be told. He has reported from more than 100 countries and has had a front-row seat to numerous global events of our day. George’s stories of faith, struggle, and hope combine the expertise of a seasoned journalist with the inspiration of a deep calling to tell the stories of the people behind the news. “I’ve always liked discovering & exploring new