A Saudi man drinks Arabic coffee as he watches Satellite TV at his home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia ,Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Arabs across the ideological spectrum, from secular-minded liberals to Muslim hard-liners, are denouncing a top Saudi cleric's edict that it was permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV stations that show "immoral" content.Quote has been trimmed
Many expressed worry the recent comments by Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan -- chief of the kingdom's highest tribunal, the Supreme Judiciary Council -- would fuel terrorism, encouraging attacks on station employees and owners.
The edict, or fatwa, has also focused the spotlight on Saudi Arabia's legal system because of al-Lihedan's senior position in the judiciary. The system is run by Islamic cleric-judges, many of them hard-liners, and has increasingly been criticized by some Saudis because of the wide discretion judges have in punishing criminals and the perception that many judges are out of touch with the realities of the world.
Even conservative clerics who agree that Arab satellite networks show too many "indecent" programs said al-Lihedan had gone too far.
But kill Micky Mouse? How do they plan to do that? Draw him and then set the paper on fire?
"For children they've become something great and beloved. Like this Mickey Mouse, who is seen as a great figure, even though under Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed," said Munajjid, who is a well-known cleric but does not hold a government position.Quote has been trimmed
The controversy over al-Lihedan's fatwa began a week ago, when the cleric was answering questions from callers to the daily "Light in the Path" religious program on Saudi state radio. One caller asked about Islam's view of the owners of satellite TV channels that show "bad programs" during the holy month of Ramadan, which began more than two weeks ago.
"I want to advise the owners of these channels, who broadcast calls for such indecency and impudence ... and I warn them of the consequences," al-Lihedan said in the program. "Those calling for corrupt beliefs, certainly it's permissible to kill them."
The remarks were especially surprising because many of the most popular Arab satellite networks are owned by Saudi princes and well-connected Saudi and Gulf businessmen.