People and government respond strongly to Mawlawi Ansari’s remarks

8 Subh, Kabul:

Mawlawi Mujib al-Rahman Ansari’s recent remarks regarding Afghanistan’s “regime” and “security forces” have provoked widespread reactions. Mawlawi Ansari on February 19, during the Friday prayer sermon, called participation in the Afghan regime “a deadly sin.” In addition, he called the pro-government religious scholars worse than “Jews and Christians.” In response, the Afghan National Security Adviser said that Mawlawi Ansari’s remarks were contrary to the views of all world scholars, adding that anyone who incited the people against the regime was a “traitor” and that foreign intelligence agencies may be involved in Mawlawi Ansari’s recent remarks, based on National Directorate of Security’s investigation. The governor of Herat also reacted sharply to Mawlawi Ansari’s remarks, emphasizing that Herat was not a place for the production of ISIS ideology and even if it cost blood, it would not allow anyone to promote extremist ideas at the behest of foreigners. The Herat Department of Pilgrimage and Endowments also asked Mawlawi Ansari to clarify the matter to the people if his words are expressed in the heat of the moment. Legal experts believe that Mawlawi Ansari’s recent remarks in connection with the security forces and the regime, carry the weight of “propaganda and struggle against the regime” and can be prosecuted based on the Afghan Penal Code.

Following the remarks of Mawlawi Mujib al-Rahman Ansari, the preacher of the Herat Gazargah Mosque, who called participation in the Afghan regime a “deadly sin”, Hamdullah Moheb, the country’s national security adviser, said that Mawlawi Ansari’s remarks were contrary to the views of “all world scholars.” Religious scholars of all countries, except for one, have called the war in Afghanistan “illegitimate.” Mr. Moheb told a news conference in Kabul on Saturday that if anyone incited the people against the regime, they would be considered a traitor and would be dealt with accordingly. He also emphasized that those who spoke from a religious position of authority as a preacher should coordinate their pronouncements with other religious scholars.

“If Mawlawi Ansari’s remarks are within the framework of Islam, he should coordinate with religious scholars,” the national security adviser added. If there is any intelligence issue, because regional intelligence agencies are also active in the western zone of the country, the National Security would be tasked to investigate.”

Additionally, Ahmad Zia Siraj, Head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), said in the press conference that the government acted by the law and regulations, and if someone spoke beyond all values to challenge the legitimate government, that would be the point at which they had gone beyond the law. The head of the NDS believes that Mawlawi Ansari’s remarks regarding the presence of individuals in the system are outside the scope of Afghan law and warned that if this trend continued, the government would take action on this matter.

Herat Governor Sayed Wahid Qatali said that Herat was not a place for ISIL production. “It’s not as if we are dead, that there should be terror in this city again,” he told a news conference on Saturday. “Lower your flags of evil. We gave blood to make this city and its people prosperous. Let our blood be shed, but we will not allow ISIS to come. They should be ashamed.” Addressing Mawlawi Ansari, Mr. Qatali warned, “Stay within your limits, and do not hurt the feelings of the people. This nation wants to think of prosperity. It has just started to have control over its waters – over the Salma and Kamal Khan dams and their mines. Do not support conspiracies from outside parties.”

The senior Herat local official added, “Last season, someone produced extremist ideas at the behest of an outsider, but the people are tired of terror and war.” In his view, this is propaganda against the security forces at the order of an outside party.

Mawlawi Ansari had said in his speech that religious scholars who supported the current system were worse than “Jews and Christians”, but according to the governor of Herat, someone who wished to set up ISIS and lead people to misery was far worse.

At the same time, according to legal experts, if a person provokes people and encourages them to take action against the government, this is against the constitution of Afghanistan and the person involved should be prosecuted. Wahid Farzayi, a legal expert, told 8 Subh that if a person “weakens the system”, their punishment must be greater, but if they only “propagate” and do not harm the government and the security forces, they are still guilty and deserve punishment, even if it is of a milder degree. Legal experts believe that Mawlawi Ansari’s recent remarks, in connection with the security forces and the regime, represent “propaganda and struggle against the government” and can be prosecuted based on the Afghan Penal Code.

Abdul Khaliq Herawi, head of Hajj and Endowments in Herat, told 8 Subh that Mawlawi Ansari’s recent remarks were not accepted by any religious scholar and they were his personal views. According to him, these words were uttered from a person’s address and are not the views of Islam and the religion. The head of Herat Hajj and Endowments added that from the point of view of religious scholars, Afghanistan needs unity in the current situation and there should be no distance created between the people, which is why Mawlawi Ansari should be held responsible for his words. He emphasized that religious scholars were ready to discuss the sayings of Mawlawi Ansari in a public meeting.

Mr. Herawi insisted that Ansari’s remarks were “an insult to all those who work in the government” and asked Mawlawi Ansari to clarify the matter to the people if he had got carried away by emotion. This Herat-based official believes that while no one could deny the issue of “corruption in the system” and although the people were not completely satisfied with the current system, the whole nation could not be questioned and painted as sinners that commit deadly sins or compared to Jews and Christians.

Mawlawi Ansari’s controversial remarks provoked a wave of reactions from people and social media users in Herat. Some social media users condemned the remarks, posting pictures of security forces and supporting them. Shakib Pardis, a resident of Herat, believes that the Afghan regime was achieved at the cost of the blood of thousands and that all Afghans should support it. In his view, using religion and calling people sinners is a deadly sin in itself.

Other social media users have also published “sarcastic” content about the sin of those working in the regime, calling Mawlawi Ansari’s remarks a “great insult” to the entire Afghan nation. Mawlawi Mujib al-Rahman Ansari, the preacher of the Herat Gazargah Mosque, had previously said in a speech that “women’s lack of hijab was the reason for men’s debauchery” and that he intended to implement his interpretation of Islam by establishing a “command of enjoining the good and forbidding evil.”