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Page last updated at 20:25 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 21:25 UK

Saudi judge condemns 'immoral TV'

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The most senior judge in Saudi Arabia has said it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV channels which broadcast immoral programmes.

Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan said some "evil" entertainment programmes aired by the channels promoted debauchery.

Dozens of satellite television channels broadcast across the Middle East, where they are watched by millions of Arabs every day.

The judge made the comments on a state radio programme.

He was speaking in response to a listener who asked his opinion on the airing of programmes featuring scantily-dressed women during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"There is no doubt that these programmes are a great evil, and the owners of these channels are as guilty as those who watch them," said the sheikh.

"It is legitimate to kill those who call for corruption if their evil can not be stopped by other penalties."

Royal dilemma

Given his position as the country's most senior judge, the sheikh's views can not be easily dismissed, says BBC Arab affairs analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi.

Clerics like Sheikh al-Luhaydan represent a huge dilemma for the Saudi royal family, our correspondent adds.

On the one hand, Saudi rulers need their support to claim that they rule in the name of Islam.

But on the other hand, fighting militant Islam can be difficult when the country's top judge calls for the beheading - the standard judicial execution in the Saudi Arabia - of those he views as immoral broadcasters.


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