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MTV documentary stirs controversy
An MTV documentary on young Saudis has sparked an uproar in the Kingdom.
June 3, 2010 9:58 by Rasha Reslan
A recent controversial MTV documentary showing young Saudis discussing their aspirations could lead to a crisis between the Municipal Council and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry where some parts of the film were shot, said sources on Wednesday.
The documentary which was broadcast on the US music channel has attracted much criticism from within the Kingdom with many members of the public filing complaints at various government departments. Segments of the program have also been circulated on YouTube and other Internet sites.
According to the sources, the Jeddah Summary Court has received numerous complaints from conservative members of the public and is considering whether to take them forward. The sources added that the Ministry of Culture and Information is also presently conducting its own investigations into the film. The deputy chairman of the Jeddah Municipal Council, Hassan Al-Zahrani, who also appeared in the film with other members of the council, told Arab News that he had no idea that he was being filmed or that he would appear on television.
“This was a grave mistake. The meeting between members of the council and a number of young men and women from Jeddah was organized with the JCCI, which promised to find a suitable place for the meeting. However, when we arrived at the chamber, we were surprised to see that the location was not properly set and that it was an open hall in which anyone could come and go,” he said.
Al-Zahrani added that when he watched the documentary on television he learned that much of what he had said had been edited to suit the program’s theme. “I spoke about a lot of important matters and gave valuable information but much of what I had said had been edited,” he said.
He added that he is currently looking into the matter and consulting legal experts. “The film was made in a hurry and projected unrealistic issues,” he said, adding that the council has always welcomed women and considers them to be part of society.
“Our doors have always been open to women on condition that all events are in line with the rules of Islamic law,” he said.
Arab News tried to contact the JCCI but was told that its secretary-general was busy accompanying a visiting delegation and that a statement would be issued on the matter on Saturday. The documentary — titled “Resist the power, Saudi Arabia” — was filmed in Jeddah by four groups of young men and women who spoke about elements of Saudi life that bothers them. Many viewers said the content was offensive and insulted their traditions and customs.