Unholy row as Saudi clerics slam Ramadan TV

by Kal El on September 16, 2008 · View Comments

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They want to kill purveyors of horoscopes. The Saudi nutjob religious police just don’t have enough real work, so they go after TV show producers. Not to mention Mickey Mouse! I would ask myself “What the hell is wrong with these people!?!?” But then I remember, it IS Saudi, and they ARE muslim, so the question needs no asking

RIYADH, Sept 15 (Reuters Life!) – The sanctity of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan has been spoiled for some in the Arab world by an unholy row over “depraved” TV comedies and serials that have led Saudi clerics to demand the death penalty.

Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious establishment has complained for years about what they see as brazen attacks on them and Islam by liberals who dominate Arab media.

Saudi royals and business allies have set up pan-Arab news and entertainment channels outside Saudi Arabia that aim partly at influencing Saudi Arabia’s domestic politics. Liberals and conservatives are engaged in a low-level war over the future of the key U.S. ally and world’s biggest oil exporter.

But television this year has seemingly pushed some clerics to apoplexy with romantic soaps showcasing liberal lifestyles, dramas that fan the flames of ancient tribal hatreds and slapstick comedies that have captured the public’s heart.

Ramadan, which ends around Sept. 30, is a month of fasting when Muslims are supposed to focus on God. But across the Arab world it has become an orgy of food and TV consumption once the fast ends at sunset and advertisers have a captive audience.

“If they continue airing depravity and shamelessness they should be banished from this place and others brought in their place,” senior Saudi cleric Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan said in comments published on Sunday, referring to TV executives.

He suggested purveyors of horoscopes and “sorcery” should face the death penalty, and head of the Islamic sharia courts Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan said last week channel owners should be tried and face possible death for “indecency and vulgarity”.

Arab TV producers aren’t laughing. “I haven’t seen anything that approaches depravity,” said Abdelkhalek al-Ghanem, a producer of a comedy show on Saudi Arabia’s more staid state-run Channel One. “There’s dancing and things but that’s been there for a long time, it’s not new. Some dramas have discussed tribal extremism, but depravity, no.”

The United Arab Emirates last week pulled a Syrian serial, “Saadoun al-Awajy”, after Saudi tribal leaders complained that it was stoking ancient rivalries.

Saudi Arabia has had difficulty carving out a national identity since it was formed in 1932 as an alliance between the Saudi family and puritan clerics who administer sharia law.

DUH! Of course there is difficulty! Most of the royal family are either drunks or drug abusers, and only the most ignorant humans on earth actually WANT shariah, so of course there will be tension. And that dhimwit Brit Rowan Williams is calling for Shariah in the Untied Kingdom. Perhaps he ought to be sent to live in Saudi for 5 years so he can get a taste of what he is trying to cram up the rear ends of the Britons.

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