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SAUDI ARABIA: Kill the immoral TV executives

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Watch out, TV executives peddling promiscuous, Western-style programming. A leading Saudi cleric has sanctioned the killing of media tycoons he blames for causing the “deviance of thousands of people.”

Sheikh Saleh Lihedan, a top Saudi judiciary official, may not have to look too far for the purveyors of what he regards as immoral broadcasting. A number of Middle East networks, including those featuring Hollywood movies and music videos, are managed by members of the Saudi royal family or those with palace connections.

The Associated Press reported that Al-Lihedan’s fatwa, or edict, was made during a religious radio program called Light in the Path. The cleric, responding to a call in question about TV programming, was quoted as saying:

“I want to advise the owners of these channels, who broadcast calls for such indecency and impudence ... and I warn them of the consequences. What does the owner of these networks think, when he provides seduction, obscenity and vulgarity?” He added: “This calling for corrupt beliefs; certainly it is permissible to kill them.”

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Lihedan later modified his statement, saying death penalties for such cases are the jurisdiction of Islamic courts. His threat was the latest attempt by Islamists to chasten the airways in a global, Internet age in which piety is challenged by the alluring hum of satellite dishes. The dilemma is part of a larger struggle between religious conservatives and reformers over the strong Wahhabi influence on Saudi life.

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

Satellite dishes in the Middle East. Credit: BBC

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for ‘L.A. Times updates,’ and then clicking on the ‘World: Mideast’ box.


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