02/05/2010, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Condemned for wanting to broadcast woman’s lecture in Saudi Literary Club.

The chairman of Al-Khansa Hall speaks of the "satanic" plan to broadcast live a scholar’s lecture. Culture minister announces an investigation and possible action. In his defence the failed broadcast of the scholar and her husband.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) – Dennounced for having attempted to broadcast live in the men's section of a cultural club of lecture of a woman. The story, into which the Saudi minister of Culture and Information, Abdul Aziz Khoja has opened an investigation, involves the president and a member of the literary circle of Al Baha, a city southwest of the kingdom, home to a university and academy.

According to the Saudi Gazette, the President of the Circle, Ahmad Hamid Al-Mass, accused Ali Muhammad Al-Rubai, of a  "satanic" proposal in attempting to arrange the live broadcast the conference of Mona Al-Mattrafi, a woman, in the space reserved for the men of Al-Khansa Hall.  

The lecturer, her husband and some members of the circle, have rushed to the defence of the accused who has defended himself saying that his intention never was to exhibit "feminine charms", but the thought of a person culturally qualified. In defence of Al-Rubaie, Al-Mattrafi reported that the matter should be viewed in the light of what happened two weeks ago, when the transmission of her speech was proposed. Al-Rubai spoke out in favour of the initiative, but the coordinator of women's activities of the club decided against it.

The accuser, now seems to have backtracked, claiming that he was misinterpreted and did not made any complaint, of which, however, Al-Rubai says he has a copy.  

All this was enough, however, to move the minister, who has announced an investigation, after which he will take "eventual measures".  

In Saudi Arabia, the presence of women on television, once completely banned, is increasing. This resulted, in March last year, in a statement signed by 35 religious, according to whom which "no Saudi woman to appear on television, for whatever reason" and "no newspaper should publish their images." The question, to be read in the framework of the cautious reforms wanted by King Abdullah, continues to arouse conflicting reactions.

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