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14 Jan, 2017 23:44

‘Don’t open doors to evil’: Top Saudi cleric calls concerts & cinemas a ‘depravity’

‘Don’t open doors to evil’: Top Saudi cleric calls concerts & cinemas a ‘depravity’

Cinemas and singing concerts are merely a depravity, Saudi Arabia’s top religious cleric said, adding that cinemas are dangerous as they may show films which are “immoral,” “atheist” and can change the country’s culture.

“We know that singing concerts and cinemas are a depravity,” Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh said in an interview on Saudi TV on Friday, as cited by AFP.

The heated discussion on cinemas and their ‘danger’ started after the top cleric was asked about the plans of the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment to license concerts and consider opening cinemas.

Cinemas “might show movies that are libertine, lewd, immoral and atheist, because they rely on films imported to change our culture,” he stated, adding that there is also “no good” in signing concerts.

According to the head of the Saudi supreme council of clerics, both concerts and cinemas represent a "call for mixing between sexes.”

“At the beginning they would assign areas for women, but then both men and women will end up in one area. This corrupts morals and destroys values,” he said.

The Grand Mufti, however, said that “entertainment through cultural and scientific media is OK.” But the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment should “not open doors to evil.”

The cinema industry is poorly developed in Saudi Arabia. The country has no cinemas, except an IMAX cinema in the city of Khobar, which shows documentaries.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah Al-Sheikh has some rather forthright views, which are hard to comprehend in the West, such as girls being able to marry at 10, and the game of chess causing “hatred between people.”

In April 2016 he defended a ban on women driving, saying that it is “a dangerous matter that exposes women to evil.”

In 2014, the Grand Mufti blasted Twitter, calling it the “source of all evil and devastation.” In 2012, he incurred the anger of Christians in the Middle East, calling for the destruction of all Christian churches in the Arabian Peninsula.