Ban women from TV, urge clerics but face reformist King Abdullah

From AOL news
A group of hard-line Saudi clerics urged the kingdom’s new information minister to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines.
In a statement, the 35 clergymen also called on Abdel Aziz Khoja, who was appointed by King Abdullah February 14 as part of a wide reform drive, to prohibit the playing of music and music shows on television.
“We have great hope that this media reform will be accomplished by you,” said the statement. “We have noticed how well-rooted perversity is in the Ministry of Information and Culture, in television, radio, press, culture clubs and the book fair.”
The clerics’ recommendation will probably have little effect because the king’s reshuffle removed a number of hard-line figures and is believed to be part of an effort to weaken the influence of conservatives in this devout desert kingdom.

The statement does, however, put a degree of pressure on the new minister and lets him know the feelings of the country’s powerful religious establishment.
“No Saudi women should appear on TV, no matter what the reason,” added the statement. “No images of women should appear in Saudi newspapers and magazines.”
Saudi Arabia was founded on an alliance with the conservative Wahhabi strain of Islam that sees the mixing of sexes as anathema and believes the playing of music violates religious values.
The former information minister, Iyad Madani, earned the ire of hard-liners several years ago by allowing music in government-run TV and female journalists to interview men, despite the country’s strict gender-segregation rules.
Women also appear on Saudi television with their faces showing, while most in public totally cover themselves.
Newspapers publish pictures of Saudi women, but almost always with heads covered, while pictures of Western entertainers are shown but bare arms and cleavage are painted over.

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