Saudi clerics call for death and punishment for TV astrology

A senior cleric in Saudi Arabia has called for the punishment to death of TV anchors of astrological shows, while another argues that TV owners should face capital punishment as well.

“Sorcerers who appear on satellite channels, who are proven to be sorcerers, have committed a great crime … and the Muslim consensus is that the apostate's punishment is death by the sword,” Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan told al-Madina daily.

He added that those who call in to these programmes should be denied Muslim rites when they die.

Fozan, a member of the Higher Council of Clerics, was responding to a controversy ignited by Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, who said last week that owners of some Arab TV channels should be prosecuted and face death.

Lohaidan, who is the head of Saudi Arabia's Islamic sharia courts, told Saudi radio: “I want to advise the owners of these channels that broadcast programmes with indecency and vulgarity and warn them of the consequences … They can be put to death through the judicial process,” cites Reuters news agency.

The cleric was referring to comedy shows aired during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to fast and focus on Allah.

Unlike his Council colleague, Fozan was not so categorical when speaking about offending TV channel owners, saying they may be ‘banished’ but not advocating death penalty for them.

Television is facing harsh criticism from clerical authorities. In August, the country’s grand mufti slammed a popular Turkish soap saying in was sinful and promoted values alien to Muslim culture.