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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 21:07 GMT 22:07 UK
Kuwait bans 'vulgar' talent shows
Syrian Star Academy contestant Myriam greets fans at a shopping centre in Kuwait City 7 May 2004.
The Star Academy concert went ahead in Kuwait despite protests
Religious authorities in Kuwait have reportedly banned concerts with women singers as "un-Islamic" following an outcry over a Lebanese TV talent show.

Forbidden acts include "women singing to men... mixing between the sexes when women reveal part of their body, and using vulgar words and dancing".

The fatwa was published by Kuwait's Islamic Affairs ministry, AFP reported.

The ministry was responding to pressure by Islamist MPs to ban a show featuring winners of the Star Academy series.

Star Academy is based on a hit French TV show of the same name in which male and female teenagers from different Arab countries live together before competing in a talent contest.

A Star Academy concert did take place in Kuwait on 6 May, despite demonstrations by hundreds of Islamist activists.

However, chief opponent Walid Tabtabai MP had threatened to grill Kuwait's information minister in parliament over the matter.

Forbidden practices

Correspondents say Kuwait has bowed to Islamists' pressure by tightening controls on public concerts, banning all forms of dance and forcing families and unaccompanied men to sit separately while attending.

Kuwaiti Bashar al-Shatti arriving home after Star Academy contest
Kuwait's own Bashar al-Shatti came second in the contest
"It is not allowed for any party to organise a concert by Star Academy, or under any other name, as long as they include practices forbidden by Islam," the fatwa, or religious edict, reportedly said.

"It is also forbidden to attend or watch these concerts, and provide any assistance or invest in them," it added.

Since a Pop Idol-style talent show was first broadcast on an Arab satellite TV station in 2003, reality programmes have proved hugely popular with Middle East audiences - providing a welcome escape from the harsh realities of the conflict-scarred region.

However, the formats popular in the West have frequently fallen foul of strict Islamic codes of decency in some Arab countries.

A version of Big Brother was taken off air in February after a huge public outcry in Bahrain where it was being filmed.

Jordanian wins Arab 'Idol'
18 Aug 03  |  TV and Radio
Talent show furore in Lebanon
12 Aug 03  |  TV and Radio


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