Wahhabi Cinema: Blasphemous Performing Arts, a Cerebral Haia………..

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Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow cinemas (movie houses) to open. It goes against the Salafi Wahhbai doctrine of the country to have cinemas or theaters or dances. All types of performing arts and fine are either banned or seriously frowned upon. There is only one type of dancing that is allowed: that is when the al-Saud princes get together and swing plastic Chinese-made swords in the air as they “get down” to it. Then it is okay: they are filmed and photographed. They even once got George W Bush to join them in the ‘Ardha (he looked stiff, but then if it had been Tony Blair he would have looked dead). The Nabati Poets Diwaniyyia also allowed, but these guys don’t dance, although they do some acting. Another exception is the annual al-Janadriya festival which is not very festive.

There was one attempt in 2005 to start by showing only cartoons during holidays and only for children and women (apparently children and women are considered cerebrally equal by the Wahhbais although I know they are both much smarter than the men). More than two years ago (2009) there was another attempt by a prince to start the move toward opening cinemas. He started film screenings in two major towns. Rotana entertainment, a group owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, showed a film of its own production. That attempt was killed by a royal order (I think Prince Nayef issued the order), after the Commission for Promotion of Vice, the religious police (Haia) headed by Nayef, strongly objected.

Now there are new murmurings about Saudi cinema, or rather cinema in Saudi Arabia. In fact there is a Saudi fatwa against cinemas. It would be interesting how the Mufti and his shaikhs change that once they are ordered to do so by the ruling family. What can they say? That the king had a holy vision that it is okay now? That the crown prince dreamed of a conversation with Steven Spielberg or maybe Bugs Bunny that convinced him it is now kosher and halal? Sorry, forget Spielberg: Salafi muftis aren’t supposed o converse with Jewish film-makers, not even in dreams. Bugs Bunny, however, remains kosher, but only for men.

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