Hamad Al-Majid, member of the Saudi National Organization for Human Rights, thinks the TV programming broadcast into Arabic homes needs to be cleaned up. He cites the efforts of a group of Saudi women to form the ‘Association for the Call for Virtue in the Information Media’ that has precisely that goal. Cleaning up TV is no longer a matter for the clerics and preachers, he says. The effort has moved into the mainstream of Arabic life.
I see a major problem, however, in an official of a human rights program calling for the limitation of what people might see, because that limits what others might say. Governments should not be involved in channeling people’s thoughts into approved or disapproved categories.
Whether this Saudi view—popular or not—moves across the Arabic world remains to be seen. The programs some Saudis deem offensive certainly have wide audiences across that same world. That may not matter to the groups looking for reform, but they might take a moment to consider why these programs are popular.
The women have every right to choose what to watch. They have the right to penalize broadcasters of whom they disapprove through their role in the markets. They may choose to avoid products made by advertisers on the programs—a boycott, in other words—but they do not have the right to insist government take a role in silencing unwanted or disliked speech. They most certainly do not have the right to incite violence against these broadcasters.
An Intifadah Against Indecent Programming
Dr. Hamad Al-Majid
The matter is no longer bearable and, as a result, she has declared her own intifadah.
She was horrified by the terrible crime and she cried out for help. Her own kingdom — her home — was surrounded in the assault, and she shouted: Help! Enough! Enough! It is a case of another Kifayah [movement in Egypt against Mubarak's intention to stay on in power; Kifayah is Arabic for 'enough'], but this time it had a media and not a political connotation.
This loud cry of “enough” emanated last Saturday from a group of Saudi female academicians and educated women during the inauguration of the “Association for the Call for Virtue in the Information Media.”
According to the Internet web site of the group in question, the inauguration of their association is an intifadah against any Arab satellite TV channel that broadcasts Arab or foreign subtitled serials showing marital adultery, nude scenes, Kissing, intimate encounters, and mediocre dialogue. It is an intifada against satellite TV advertisements containing lewd suggestions, signs, and ideas that focus on the sexual exploitation of women. This movement is a big ‘No’ to the broadcasting of video clips showing see-through clothes, immoral scenes and songs with words of a sexual nature. It is a resounding ‘No’ to any satellite TV channel that shows programs involving dancing halls, cabarets, and night clubs, and that brings this seedy world into every Arab home. It is a female cry of protest against satellite TV channels that allow or even encourage TV presenters, male and female, to exchange blatantly flirty words, make trivial jokes, and utter sex-laden words.