Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lohaidan's TV Station Owner Fatwa

A while back, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, one of Saudi Arabia's top ulama, said owners of TV stations which broadcast immoral programming could be put to death. Writing in the Journal of Arab Media and Society, Andrew Hammond examines the incident in the context of competition for authority between the dynasty and religious establishment:
"The key phrase here was qada’an, through the judicial process. For Lohaidan there was no need for him to clarify this point further in his initial comments, since for the Saudi clerics the process is all there is; they could not conceive of a moral-criminal issue in any other fashion. In classic Sunni legal thinking, followed to the letter in Saudi Arabia, God’s justice is dispensed by His cleric-lieutenants on Earth who are to be found in Sharia courts ready to pass judgment based on the divine law. The Saudi ulama have the unique privilege in the Islamic world of presiding as judges in a Sharia court system – this is the very definition of the Islamic state in their eyes. But this did not prevent Saudi-owned “liberal” media from playing-up Lohaidan’s remarks because they fit their agenda of watering down the power of the Wahhabi ulama. Before long, the story was all over pan-Arab television networks such as MBC and its al-Arabiya news channel, owned by the brother-in-law of former King Fahd, and newspapers such as al-Watan, owned by Khaled al-Faisal, son of former King Faisal and nephew of King Abdullah."



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