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Saudi scholar blasts media moguls

Al-Ahmed attacks Rotana, MBC for airing films

LONDON — A prominent Saudi scholar has accused two media moguls of being as dangerous as drug dealers because the channels they own air films.

Youssef al-Ahmed, a professor at the ultra-conservative Al-Imam U. in Saudi Arabia, blasted Prince Al Waleed bin Talal and Sheik Al Waleed al-Ibrahim, who own the Rotana and MBC nets, respectively, for their attempts to modernize Saudi society through media.

“Movies are a tool that hypocrites use to implement their plot to Westernize society, corrupt it and drive it away,” said al-Ahmed in a Web post on Islamlight.net.

Another Saudi cleric, Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, issued a fatwa in September last year stating that it was permissible for the owners of pan-Arab satellites to be killed, accusing them of broadcasting corrupting programming.

The hardliner accused Arab TV execs of encouraging the “deviance of thousands of people.”

The 79-year-old sheik, who is a senior figure in Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment, made his comments during a radio program in the conservative kingdom.

The most recent outburst appears to have come as a result of a statement made by Prince Waleed that the current ban on cinemas in Saudi Arabia — which has existed since the early 1980s — would soon be reversed. The prince has already made attempts to change the law and last December publicly screened Saudi film “Menahi” — which he financed — for a week in Jeddah. The makeshift auditorium was soon shut down by hardline authorities.

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