This word "hisbah" has been popping up a lot in my face lately and it is usually associated with three things: 1) Saudi Arabia 2) The Muslim Brothers 3) An Egyptian intellectual, writer, artist, or thinker.
Islam Q&A defines hisbah and men of hisbah as people who are dedicated, voluntarily or paid, to refuting and denouncing apparent immorality. They continue what the vice police leave unfinished. Among the public immoralities that they fight comes a long list that starts from men and women dating, to non- Muslims openly manifesting their beliefs and religious symbols, promiscuous images, movies, and books, or promoting anything that leads to adultery, homosexuality, and gambling.
The most recent hisbah lawsuit in Egypt was against renowned best selling author and the editor in chief of Akhbar Al Adab newspaper Gamal El Ghitani whom he lost to Muslim fundamentalist cleric Sheikh Youssef Al Badry. - The novelist has to pay 20,000 Egyptian Pounds or the Sheikh will take over his newspaper.
This is not the first time Sheikh Al Badry succeeds in terrorizing Egyptian intellectuals: