Following on the recent fatwas against Mickey Mouse (does anyone else suspect the Looney Tunes gang in this?), the AP reports that Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, "chief of the kingdom's highest tribunal, the Supreme Judiciary Council," has announced "that it was permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV stations that show 'immoral' content," including reruns of Sex and the City (damn you, Mario Cantone!)
"I want to advise the owners of these channels, who broadcast calls for such indecency and impudence … and I warn them of the consequences," al-Lihedan said…. "Those calling for corrupt beliefs, certainly it's permissible to kill them."
The remarks were especially surprising because many of the most popular Arab satellite networks are owned by Saudi princes and well-connected Saudi and Gulf businessmen.
On Sunday, reportedly under pressure from senior government figures, al-Lihedan appeared on Saudi state TV to explain his comments, apparently to prevent vigilante killings. He said owners should first be brought to trial and then sentenced to death if other penalties don't deter them.
He said his "advice" was aimed at owners who broadcast witchcraft, indecent programs, shows mocking Islamic scholars or religious police and comedies inappropriate for Ramadan.
Here's a voice of reason and restraint who could add something to non-violent but still-troubling American attempts to regulate small-screen content:
"Our religion prevents Muslims from watching films that provide seduction, obscenity and vulgarity," said Sheik Hazim Awad, an Iraqi cleric, who, like al-Lihedan, is Sunni Muslim.
But "the real Muslim can just cancel (subscriptions to) these channels," he said.