Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fatwas as a Ramadan Ritual

After the TV soap operas of Ramadan, a new ritual seems to be adopted in the Arab countries: the Ramadan fatwa. It is inevitable that the habits of the Holy month, like traditional Christian celebrations, reveal the contradiction between pre-modern religious rituals and the practices of the post-modern consumer society.

Saudi Arabia, a country with a large and rich population and a strict religious oriented regime, is probably the place where such contradictions are to be felt causing a real clash, not between civilizations but between extremely different ways of living a same religion--Islam.

After many calls by religious authorities against the too successful Turkish soap opera “Noor”, Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan, the most senior juge in the kingdom, has said it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV channels which broadcast immoral programmes.

Such a condemnation is a real provocation as most of the major Arab TV channels are own by people very close to the ruling family. So, it is no surprise that Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan toned down his fatwa a few days later.

In spite of all the comments about such a strange fatwa, this new battle gives the impression that the traditional components of the Saudi society are doomed to lose ground at the advantage of the liberal ones.

As usual, the link to the more developed post in French.

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