RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Many in this ultra-conservative kingdom, where husbands and wives rarely even kiss in public, have been scandalized by a Saudi man who spoke frankly about sex on a satellite TV program, showing off erotic toys and fantasizing about joining the mile-high club.
More than 200 people have filed legal complaints against Mazen Abdul-Jawad, dubbed a “sex braggart” by the media, and many Saudis say he should be severely punished.
“His punishment should be as harsh as his sin,” said lawyer Mohsen al-Awajy. “He has outraged everybody.”
Abdul-Jawad was detained last Friday for questioning. But his lawyer, Sulaiman al-Jumeii, said the interview, which was aired on the Lebanese-based LBC satellite TV station, was manipulated. He also said his client was not aware in many instances that he was being recorded.
LBC chief, Pierre Daher, refused to comment on the allegations when contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Abdul-Jawad’s July 15 appearance on LBC’s “Bold Red Line” program shocked Saudis who have rarely heard a fellow citizen publicly confess such sexual exploits.
The kingdom, which is the birthplace of Islam, enforces strict segregation of the sexes. An unrelated couple, for example, can be detained for being alone in the same car or having a cup of coffee in public. Saudis observe such segregation even at home, where they have separate living rooms for male and female guests.
Abdul-Jawad’s segment on the LBC show begins with the 32-year-old Saudi Airlines employee apparently talking about the first time he had sex – at age 14 with a neighbour. Then he leads viewers into his bedroom, dominated by red accessories. Sitting cross-legged on a red bedcover, Abdul-Jawad, a divorced father of four sons, says “everything happens in this room.”
Another shot shows Abdul-Jawad, who is dressed in a red shirt and red slippers and sports a stylish goatee, holding up blurred sex toys, a sex manual and a bottle he took from a box.
“It’s used for women who do not have sexual desire,” he says.
The segment then shows him greeting three male friends at the door of his apartment, located in the western seaport of Jiddah. The four, who have all now been detained by Saudi authorities, then briefly discuss what turns them on and how much “comfort” they get from sex.
“One million per cent,” says Abdul-Jawad.
Finally, he is shown sitting on his bed, saying that while he doesn’t care where he has sex, sometimes he would like to have a “paranormal” experience.
“You may ask me, ‘Where?”‘ he says. “I may tell you, ‘I wish in an airplane.”‘
Saudi papers have closely followed the details of the TV saga, splashing Abdul-Jawad’s story on their front pages.
Online viewers have posted comments laced with expletives, reflecting their anger at the man. YouTube on Thursday disabled comments for the video.
Prominent clergyman Salman al-Awdah said the perpetrator should be given a “deterring” punishment.
“Muslim society rejects such action,” he said on MBC TV.
Al-Jumeii, Abdul-Jawad’s lawyer, has filed a lawsuit against the LBC satellite TV channel, which is controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
He said LBC led his client to believe that he was going to appear on a show aimed at helping couples who are too embarrassed to discuss sexual problems. He said LBC did not get Abdul-Jawad’s written approval for airing the segment, filmed more than seven months ago, as Saudi law stipulates. He also said the sex toys were brought by the LBC staffers and that the sex-at-14 story was one his client had heard and was repeating for his interviewer.
Al-Jumeii told the AP that Abdul-Jawad has not yet been charged with anything and that he does not believe the 200 legal complaints filed against his client in a Jiddah court for “harming Saudis” are valid.
The lawyer said Abdul-Jawad is “very upset” at being dubbed a sex braggart by the media and considers the label “a ruling against him.”
In an interview with Okaz newspaper last month, Abdul-Jawad begged forgiveness from Saudi society for appearing on the show.
“I despised myself and felt low after I watched the episode,” Abdul-Jawad told the paper. “But the TV station aired only about 5 per cent of the interview.”
He said his face was not supposed to be shown while displaying the sex toys, that he was not shown the segment before it aired – as promised – and that part of the conversation was recorded without his knowledge, according to Okaz.
“You cannot imagine the anger that has swept through my family,” Abdul-Jawad told Okaz. “Those close to me have harshly scolded me.”
He said one of the most difficult moments was when his 14-year-old eldest son brought him a newspaper with his father’s picture in it.
“He had tears in his eyes, he hugged me closely and said he was worried I would be jailed,” Abdul-Jawad told the newspaper.