Saudi’s media debate
Senior media executives in the kingdom argue about the freedom of media: what is acceptable, and what is not.
October 25, 2009 1:13 by Omaima Al-Fardan
The closure of the Lebanese Broadcasting Channel (LBC)’s Riyadh office after a Saudi national, Mazen Abdul Jawad, openly bragged about his sexual exploits on one of its programs, has raised the question about the freedom of “the responsible media.”
Following the incident, some people called for the closure of the Al-Majd space channel in the kingdom, classifying it among other fanatic channels that aim to spread superstition, trivialities and extremist ideology.
Those calling for the closure of Al-Majd say it represents an intellectual threat to all sectors and norms of the society. “This is more serious than Abdul Jawad bragging about his sexual adventures, which would only hurt him personally and would not create extremists who blow themselves up as a sacrifice to Satan,” Ali Al-Amri wrote on Lar electronic newspaper.
However, Hamad Al-Majed, Islamic writer in the daily Asharq Al-Awsat has accused so-called liberals of practicing “distorted freedom.” He said those preaching the virtues of freedom are in reality practicing dictatorship through a distorted principle, which gives them the right to practice what they believe and to deny what others believe in. He also defended Al-Majd’s decision to broadcast a controversial interview with Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Fouzan, who repeatedly attacked some minority sects on air. This led to accusations of sectarianism against the channel, but Al-Majd claims, “[It] should not be responsible for the mistakes of the people appearing on it.”