Saudi Arabia’s Ban On ‘Immoral, Rotten’ Films Is Not Going Anywhere

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Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to make the country (appear) more progressive. But cinemas are not going to be a part of that progressiveness.

Saudi vision 2030

As part of the Saudi king's son and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman blueprint for a post-oil economy — Vision 2030 – Saudi Arabia has recently allowed people to have fun.

The entertainment authority in the conservative kingdom plans to have more music shows and other recreational activities in order to “improve the investment climate to attract foreign funds and reduce the export of capital."

However, movie theaters are still not going to be a part of the sweeping reforms..

Saudi Arabia is, perhaps, the only country where there are no cinemas – and none are going to open anytime soon because the Grand Mufti, the head of the country’s religious authority, doesn’t support the idea.

“Motion pictures may broadcast shameless, immoral, atheistic or rotten films,” said Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, this week during his weekly television program.

It’s not as if Saudi Arabia never had movie theatres. Public cinemas were banned in the 1980s after religious clergy, which holds considerable influence over the ruling family, deemed it un-Islamic.

“I hope those in charge of the entertainment authority are guided to turn it from bad to good and not to open doors to evil,” al-Sheikh added, referring to the head of the General Authority for Entertainment, Amr al-Madani’s proposal to reintroduce movie theatres.

The grand mufti also denounced “song parties,” and stated “opening of movie houses at all times is an invitation to mixing of sexes.”

Bin Salman might be trying to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative image but as far as social and cultural reforms are concerned, the main power still stays with the country’s religious leaders who intend to stick to the strict interpretation of Islam – Wahhabism – and this contradiction is expected to create major problems for Vision 2030.

Banner / Thumbnail Credit : Reuters

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