Saudi Arabia ”may lift three-decade ban on cinemas

December 22nd, 2008 - 5:03 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 22 (ANI): Despite a three-decade ban on cinemas in Saudi Arabia, some movies may be acceptable in the kingdom, says the chief of a powerful religious police.

According to media reports, Sheikh Ibrahim al-Gaith, head of the feared Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, made the concession after the comedy feature “Manahi” was being shown in Jeddah last week.

“A movie could possibly be acceptable if it serves good and is suitable under Islam,” the Telegraph quoted Sheikh Gaith as saying.

Pulling back from his recent comments that movies were “an absolute evil” in the wake of screenings in the Red Sea port city, Gaith said: “I did not say that we reject all cinema, but I said that we were not consulted during the organisation of these movie showings.

Since December 9, the Rotana entertainment group, controlled by Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, showed “Manahi” to audiences in Jeddah and nearby Taif.

The screenings of the film were approved by the provincial governor, Prince Khalid al-Faisal, and have now sparked hopes that Saudi Arabia would soon allow public cinemas.

There are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia, but some coffee shops surreptitiously put on movies for customers.

Many Saudis enjoy films at home on DVD and satellite television, and to experience a cinema, they have to travel to nearby Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates or other countries. (ANI)

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