Friday, September 12, 2008

Saudi cleric issues fatwa against owners of Arabian satellite TV networks broadcasting irreligious content

A Saudi Arabian mullah essentially declared a “fatwa” on owners of satellite television channels that broadcast “immoral” conduct or behavior that violates religious requirements of strict Islam or Wahhabism. The shiek was Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, supposedly Saudi Arabia’s top judiciary official. His declaration (characterizing some whole Arab TV networks as "immoral") does not have the force of law but may be seen as influential on actions that others may take, as it says what kinds of personal “retribution” are “OK” by radical religious thinking. The AP story is at this link and appeared this morning. The story did name an author.

Many of the television channels attracting the ire of the sheik are owned by princes connected to the royal family. Radical Islamic culture views movies and television as potentially subversive, and in tribal areas people often do not understand the distinction between “fiction” (as in most western movies) and reality. That was a reason why the release of the Dreamworks film “The Kite Runner” (based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini) was delayed worldwide in 2007 and not shown in some Islamic countries (although the DVD is widely available).

The ruling was seen as disapproval of Western lifestyles and values, and might support the theory that Western behaviors (as well as occupation of sacred lands by “infidels”) offend Saudi young men otherwise dispossessed and contribute to their actions. The statement certainly supports a collective, rather than individualize view, of responsibility for behavior.

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