Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cinema ban sparks debate in Saudi Council

translated by Sonia Farid for Al Arabiya (UAE)

The debate started when the Council's Culture and Media Committee presented a draft law on a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information and the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, the Saudi edition of Al-Hayat reported on Tuesday. Member Ahmed al-Turki stressed the necessity to benefit from Russia's experience in cinema arts. He called on religious scholars to find a way to allow movie theaters without contradicting the principles of Islam. Sources who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity explained why Council Chairman, Dr. Saleh bin Hamid, discontinued the debate: "This doesn't mean he was siding with anyone. He was using his right to direct conversations in the Council and ensure they don't digress to side topics." Regular theatres are not allowed in Saudi Arabia because movies are considered incompatible with the teachings of Islam, as they promote the mingling of sexes and show examples of immoral behavior.

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