Cleric issues fatwa against TV execs

MBC's 'Nour' among shows condemned as evil

A hard-line Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa, or religious decree, stating it is permissible for the owners of pan-Arab satellite to be killed after accusing them of broadcasting corrupting programming.

Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, who has previously attracted controversy for failing to denounce acts of terrorism, 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.

While threats against Arab TV execs by religious leaders are nothing new, in July Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti Sheik Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh issued an edict against popular shows such as MBC’s “Nour” condemning them as evil and ordering auds to stop watching them, al-Lihedan’s comments have raised the stakes to disturbing new heights.

“This is huge,” said one Arab TV exec. “It basically tells anyone that they can kill someone like Sheik Waleed or Prince Waleed.”

Saudi mavens Sheik Waleed al-Ibrahim and Prince Waleed bin Talal own pan-Arab nets MBC and Rotana respectively. While Sheik al-Lihedan’s comments apply to all Arab TV execs, they will most likely be seen as direct threats to Saudi ones such as the two Waleeds.