A week ago we reported on a Saudi preacher who had issued a Fatwa on Arabic TV stations and their bosses, which showed fortune tellers (“sorcerers”) and racy programming. Now Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan, has softened his stance, telling state-run Saudi television that channels who run programming like Noor, this Ramadan season’s top-rated drama, that they first need to be judicially tried. “Then they may be killed,” he said.
Noor is a Turkish-produced series from Kemul Uzun, a badly dubbed telenovela that has swept the board throughout the Middle East, and is shown nightly on Saudi Arabia-backed MBC4.
The show is heavily censored, but still leaves little to the imagination. Here’s one comment from a fan: “Every evening for the past four months, a tall young man with soulful blue eyes has been stealing hearts across the Middle East, from the refugee camps of the Gaza Strip to the gated mansions of Riyadh. He’s romantic, attentive to his wife, Noor, supportive of her independence and ambitions as a fashion designer - in short, a rare gem for women in conservative, male-dominated surroundings.”
Local newspapers say that the show has taken more people off the streets than World Cup soccer, and Saudi maternity hospitals have reported a rise in the number of babies called Noor (or Mohannad, after the hero).
It is against this popular tide that Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan, who heads Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Judicial Council, the highest judicial body in the ultra-conservative kingdom, said on Friday that "It is lawful to kill... the apostles of depravation... if their evil cannot be easily removed through simple sanctions."
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