Judge condones murder
Saudi Arabia’s most senior judge, Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan, has said it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV channels which broadcast immoral programmes. The judge made the comments on a state radio programme in response to a listener who asked his opinion on the airing of programmes featuring scantily dressed women during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Dozens of satellite television channels broadcast across the Middle East, where they are watched by millions of Arabs every day. ‘There is no doubt that these programmes are a great evil, and the owners of these channels are as guilty as those who watch them’, said the sheikh. ‘It is legitimate to kill those who call for corruption if their evil cannot be stopped by other penalties’.
The BBC Arab affairs analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi, points out the dilemma posed to the Saudi royal family by such comments from the country’s most senior judge.
On the one hand, Saudi rulers need their support to claim that they rule in the name of Islam. But on the other hand, fighting militant Islam can be difficult when the country’s top judge calls for the beheading – the standard judicial execution in Saudi Arabia – of those he views as immoral broadcasters.