Saudi cleric hits out at 'immoral' soap opera

Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority has slammed Turkish soap operas, now hugely popular in the Middle East, as being “evil” and “un-Islamic”, a local newspaper reported this week.

The country’s head of the Higher Council of Religious Scholars, Sheikh Abdel-Aziz al-Sheikh, told a seminar in Riyadh that it was not permitted to watch Turkish soap operas, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Warning Arab television channels that broadcast them, al-Sheikh said those channels would be perceived as waging a war on God and Islam if they helped to make those soaps more popular.

Those soap are “full of wickedness, evil and moral degradation”, he said.

The Turkish soap opera Noor has become a hit across the Arab world. In Saudi Arabia, between three million to four million viewers watch it every evening, according to figures issued by Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

The Saudi-owned, private entertainment satellite channel MBC started airing the show four months ago dubbed into the Syrian Arabic vernacular.

Unlike state-owned channels in the conservative kingdom, the relatively liberal channel screens Western films and shows slightly sanitised for conservative Arab audiences.

Other Saudi and Arab clerics have previously condemned Noor and popular Latin-American and United States soaps, which they perceive as immoral for their portrayal of secular societies’ values, such as women’s equal rights and unrestricted gender mixing.—Sapa-dpa


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