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Middle East
Saudi scholar issues TV death fatwa
Chief justice of the supreme judicial council permits killing of 'depraved' TV moguls.
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2008 21:54 GMT

Luhaidan said it is permissible to kill those
who broadcast 'immoral' TV output

A Saudi scholar has issued a religious decree saying it is permissible to kill the owners of television networks broadcasting "depravation and debauchery".

"It is lawful to kill ... the apostles of depravation ... if their evil cannot be easily removed through simple sanctions," Saleh al-Luhaidan, chief justice of the supreme judicial council, was quoted by the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel as saying.

"The situation is serious ... the degradation of morals is a form of perversion on Earth," al-Luhaidan said.

The 79-year-old scholar, who holds the highest judicial authority in the kingdom, made the comments during a recent radio show in which he was asked by a caller for his opinions on immoral programmes being broadcast on Arab televisions during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The shows depict lifestyles and values deemed offensive by many Saudi religious leaders and judges.

Many of the most popular Arab satellite networks are owned by Saudi princes and well-connected Saudi businessmen.

'Subversive shows' 

Azzam Tamimi, the director of the Islamic Institute of Political Thought, told Al Jazeera: "You cannot just license the killing of people in this way.

"If I were in his place, I would criticise the people who licensed the channels in the first place and these are the rulers of his own country."

He said: "The problem is that there is a deliberate attempt to impose an imported culture on Arab societies.

"Saudi royalty owns many of these channels, they provide funding for them and I think they are responsible for this campaign."

Earlier this year, sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the kindgom's grand mufti, issued a fatwa (religious edict) against channels that broadcast Noor, a Turkish-produced soap opera centred on the lives of a husband and wife seeking to reconcile the conflicting pressures of traditional and modern worlds.

The grand mufti, the head of Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, branded the popular show "subversive" and "anti-Islamic" and said anyone who broadcast it was "an enemy of God and his Prophet".

Al-Luhaidan has sparked controversy in the past by issuing a decree that Saudis can join those fighting against US troops in Iraq.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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