A Saudi religious scholar has issued an edict calling for the prosecution of a royal tycoon and another Saudi businessman, accusing the men of being as dangerous as drug dealers because the TV channels they own broadcast movies.
The edict issued by Youssef al-Ahmed, a government employee, is unusual in that it publicly chastises two such prominent Saudi figures by name — Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Waleed al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of the late king Fahd and owner of the Dubai-based MBC Group media conglomerate.
It also comes about six months after the former head of the kingdom’s highest tribunal said it was permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV stations that show content deemed immoral.
The edict issued Saturday by al-Ahmed, a professor in the Islamic law department at the ultra-conservative al-Imam University, came in response to a question regarding Alwaleed’s assertions last month that there will be movie theatres in the kingdom one day and that movies play a “positive’’ social role in Saudi Arabia.
“Movies are a tool that hypocrites use to implement their plot to westernize society, corrupt it and drive it away from (religion),’’ said al-Ahmed in his response, posted on Islamlight.net, an Islamic website that contains news, columns and edicts. “It is a duty to bring him (Alwaleed) and people like him, such as Waleed al-Ibrahim, to justice. They are no less dangerous … than drug dealers.’’
Alwaleed, who is a nephew of King Abdullah and is ranked as the world’s 13th-richest person by Forbes magazine, did not respond to a request for comment on the edict. The director of marketing for MBC Group, Mazen Hayek, declined to comment.