A group of Saudi clerics urged the kingdom’s new information minister on Sunday to ban women from appearing on TV or in newspapers and magazines, making clear that the country’s hardline religious establishment is skeptical of a new push toward moderation.
In a statement, the 35 hardline clergymen also called on Abdel Aziz Khoja, who was appointed by King Abdullah on Feb. 14, to prohibit the playing of music and music shows on television.
“We have great hope that this media reform will be accomplished by you,” said the statement. “We have noticed how well-rooted perversity is in the Ministry of Information and Culture, in television, radio, press, culture clubs and the book fair.”
Although it raises the pressure on the new minister, the recommendation is likely to have little effect. Khoja’s appointment was part of a government shake-up by Abdullah that removed a number of hardline figures and is believed to be part of an effort to weaken the influence of conservatives in this devout desert kingdom.
“No Saudi women should appear on TV, no matter what the reason,” the statement said. “No images of women should appear in Saudi newspapers and magazines.”