RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: A senior Saudi official said Sunday that owners of satellite TV networks that show “immoral” content should be brought to trial and sentenced to death if other penalties don’t deter them from airing such broadcasts.
The comments by Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan, the chief of the kingdom’s highest tribunal, the Supreme Judiciary Council, were an attempt to explain a fatwa, or decree, he issued last week, in which he said just that it was permissible to kill the network’s owners.
Appearing on government-run Saudi TV Sunday, al-Lihedan seemed to be trying to calm the controversy his original comments triggered, explaining that the owners of offending networks should be warned and punished before possibly being brought to trial and executed.
On Sunday, he said his “advice” was aimed at owners who broadcast witchcraft, indecent programs, shows that mock scholars or the religious police and comedies that are not appropriate for Ramadan.
Government-run channels in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia steer well clear of any programming that could be deemed risque. However, on satellite broadcasts it is possible to see Western music videos as well as American soaps and TV series, such as “Sex and the City,” that include some nudity.
“If they are not deterred by the punishment and continue corrupting people through the broadcasts, then it is permissible for the relevant authorities to kill them after trials,” al-Lihedan told Saudi TV. A transcript of the interview was carried by the official Saudi Press Agency in Arabic and English.