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    » 04/02/2009, 00.00

    SAUDI ARABIA

    Religious police arrest famous actors, because men and women were performing together



    The muttawa raids a hotel where a popular television series was being filmed. The actors have been released on bail, and one woman has been subjected to a moral education session. There is sharp division in the country between the fundamentalist religious leaders and those who want more freedom.

    Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A blitz by the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the religious police, or muttawa), who early in the morning of March 30 raided a famous hotel in Riyadh and took away the actors and production staff for a television series.

    Three actors and one actress were taken to the local police station, and later released on bail. According to a local newspaper, they are the famous Omani actor Ebrahim Al Zidjali, the actors Ali Saad and Fawaz Al Jaser, and the actress Sahar.

    Local sources explain that the religious police intervened because scenes were filmed at the hotel in which male and female actors were on the set together. For this reason, Sahar was also taken to a center of the Commission where female officers explained to her the consequences and dangers of being with men in public places.

    The actors were filming an episode of the series "Ayyamu Al Surab" (the days of Surab) produced by Al Sadaf. After the raid, the other members of the group immediately left the hotel.

    Ebrahim Al Zidjali has commented that he does not understand why it is prohibited to film the scenes in the country, since public television broadcasts similar series that include scenes filmed in public places with authorization from the authorities.

    In Saudi Arabia, religious leaders have repeatedly lashed out against movies, music, and many television shows which they call immoral and worthless. There is a true split in the country between the authorities, many of whom follow this kind of teaching, and an increasingly large base of young liberals who want more openness, more freedom for women, and the authorization of different forms of entertainment.

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    See also

    11/03/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
    Prison, whipping for 75-year-old widow: her nephew brought her bread
    The poor woman is suspected of seducing two young men. She even risks being kicked out of the country. There are criticisms of abuse of power on the part of the religious police, who watch over the morality and behavior of citizens, gravely interfering in individuals' private lives.

    10/03/2009 INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA
    After jail, Christians pray for Saudi king Abdallah
    Fr. George Joshua was arrested in 2006 by the religious police, for celebrating Mass in a private residence. In 2007, he founded a group that has been joined by more than 500 people. They are praying for the well-being of the kingdom, and for freedom of religion. The priest invites Christians in India to make a "positive contribution to Saudi society."

    26/03/2009 TAJIKISTAN
    Tajik president Rakhmon signs law suffocating religious freedom
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    13/09/2008 SAUDI ARABIA
    Islamic leader: it is permissible to kill the owners of "immoral" television channels
    For the sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan, the television channels that broadcast programs contrary to morality must be stopped; if there are no other means of coercion, he authorizes murder. Even the Saudi royal family is in danger, because it owns a channel that broadcasts music films and videos.

    02/04/2009 SRI LANKA
    Christian activist arrested: he had documents on the humanitarian crisis in Vanni
    Santha Fernando is the secretary of the Commission for Justice and Peace. He was arrested at the international airport of Colombo by the anti-terrorism investigative division. He was supposed to participate in a seminar on the situation in the north, ripped apart by the war between the army and the Tamil Tigers.



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