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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 09:54 AM
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Cartoons herald return of cinema to Saudi Arabia
Cartoons herald return of cinema to Saudi Arabia

Clerics killed off public screenings in 70s and 80s
Women and children to make up first audience

Brian Whitaker
Wednesday October 19, 2005
The Guardian

After an absence of about 20 years, cinema will make a tentative return to Saudi Arabia next month with a screening of cartoons for an audience of women and children. A one-hour programme of foreign cartoons dubbed into Arabic will be shown at a hotel in Riyadh three times a night for two weeks, starting from November 2 or 3, when the holy month of Ramadan ends.

The organisers, who secured an agreement with the municipal authorities, are hoping 50,000 people will attend. Showing films aimed exclusively at women and children sidesteps religious demands for gender segregation. Although the kingdom apparently has no law against cinemas, screening of films died out during the 1970s and 1980s as ultra-conservative clerics gained influence.

Ferej Alowedi, the charge d'affaires at the Saudi embassy in London, said: "In the 1970s many of the films that were being distributed were often very offensive to our conservative society and people stopped showing films. Things have changed. There is a lot more television and many beautiful films are being produced. For some time we have been able to hire and buy videos in Saudi Arabia. The opening of cinemas is natural."

The experiment is seen as a prelude to the start of real cinema screenings, according to the Saudi-owned Arabic daily, al-Hayat. Mai Yamani, a Saudi-born writer and academic, recalls watching films in the kingdom during the early 1970s, in mixed audiences where women had their faces unveiled. But there was a backlash after the assassination of King Faisal in 1975. "He was too much of a moderniser for the clerics. He had introduced TV," she said. "This is a good step because women don't only want to go shopping for food. They are thought of as very sensitive and emotional and mustn't be led astray. I'm sure they will make sure there isn't anything in the cartoon films to excite them too much.,11599,1595364,0...
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Ellen Forradalom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:04 AM
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1. Meanwhile, Iran consistently produces excellent films
enough to fill a bill at the local film center once a year. More evidence that, while Iran is conservative, it's nowhere near as radically so as Saudi Arabia.
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emad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:08 AM
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3. Iranian women are allowed to drive, vote and have full access to
the law.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi says things are far from 100% but that Iranian men are not as goddam terrified of women as the Saudis are.
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formerrepuke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:06 AM
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2. How nice that women are now able to go to the movies in Saudi Arabia..
...One wonders if one of the reasons that there are young Saudi men drawn to radical Islam (like most of the 9/11 hijackers) is that Saudi women are so cloistered.. No dating, no hand-holding, not even a co-ed trip the movies. If I had to spend all my spare time around other men, I'd go a little bonkers myself.
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Zenlitened Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-19-05 10:39 AM
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4. I think you have a point. Religious fundamentalism poisons everything...
... and everyone it touches.

It's not just contact with members of the opposite sex, either. It's music, movies -- so many aspects of healthy human culture that have been declared off-limits by the clerics.


From poet William Blake: "He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence."

And, "As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the Priest lays his curse on the fairest joys."
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