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The Circus is Not Sorcery! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Loved and enjoyed the world over, by children and adults alike, the circus is a great spectacle for the entire family and a welcomed distraction from daily routine.

Exceedingly popular across Saudi Arabia in the last few years, the circus has recently been dismissed by a fatwa (religious edict) as sorcery, according to media reports.

The above opinion is both extraordinary and extreme. It will also revive charges of extremism against the land of the Two Holy Mosques.

Everyone must realize that religious edicts originating from Saudi Arabia are subject to scrutiny. Over the last few years, various fatwas have been classified as amusing, absurd, practical and useful. It is important to consider the effect of the edict and use rationality and in order for it to be accepted and applied.

Denouncing the circus as magic only serves to weaken the religious authorities and drive a significant segment of Muslims to seek guidance in dark alleys and the shadows of the internet.

In spite of this, a large number of families attended the circus in Riyadh and all were kept amused.

Major differences exist between entertaining people and opposing all activities in the fear that they might lead to immorality. This practice only serves to promote extremism and stifle society, even if it originally intended to root out moral corruption.

Of course, the issue is wider than a discussion of the merit of professionals entertaining the public, sometimes accompanied by animals, and denouncing it as sorcery and prohibiting it.

The debate illustrated above is evidence of hoe the novel is often met with outright prohibition since it easier to forbid than understand. This is accomplished by using complex vocabulary and evidence taken out of context (for who would argue against banning sorcery?) What is permissible is obvious and what is forbidden is also clear. The rest is all personal judgment.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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