Fatwa against Arabic TV channels kicks up a row

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Dubai, Sep 14 (UNI) A Saudi fatwa that owners of satellite TV channels broadcasting obscene programmes could face execution, has put the electonic media in a quandary.

''Those calling for fitna (sedition and immorality) and those who are able to prevent it but don't, it is permissible to kill them,'' Sheikh Saleh Al-Laheedan, chairman of the Supreme Judiciary Council, Saudi Arabia said.

''It is legitimate to kill those who encourage corruption in faith and action if their evil cannot be stopped by other enalties,'' Al-Watan Arabic daily quoted him as saying as saying when asked about owners of satellite channels telecasting immoral programs during Ramadan.

The head of the Kingdom's judiciary also explained that a person could be killed not only for murdering another person but also for corrupting faith and morality.

He urged the owners of Arab channels not to use their media to broadcast immoral and un-Islamic programs, including those promoting black magic. They should rather work to protect Islam.

''I want to advise the owners of these channels, who broadcast programs containing indecency and vulgarity... and I warn them of the serious consequences,'' he said. ''What does the owner of these networks think, when he provides seduction, obscenity and vulgarity?'' Al-Laheedan's statement, which he made while talking to Radio Qur'an, created a big row after it was aired on Arab TV channels and published in newspapers. Owners of Arab channels have also expressed their concern over the statement, the Arab News said.

Al-Watan meanwhile said it tried to contact Al-Laheedan several times to know the circumstances that led him to give the controversial statement but the paper claimed that it could not contact him.

A popular soap called 'Noor' that was broadcast by Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) for several weeks preceding Ramadan had also invited wrath of the grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh who branded the program ''subversive'' and ''anti-Islamic.'' Al-Asheikh, who is the Kingdom's highest religious authority, earlier this year, issued a fatwa against 'Noor', a Turkish soap opera dubbed into Arabic with the story of a handsome man called Mohannad and his equally stunning wife Noor, who wrestled to reconcile the conflicting pressures of traditional and modern worlds.

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