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Safety Fears for Al Hoor Al Ain Cast | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-The book entitled, ”Al-Hoor Al-Ain”s place in the eyes of Believers”, by Abdul Kareem Al-Hmaid, was the cause of much controversy in Saudi Arabia. Many expressed outrage at the author”s harsh criticism of the cast of the television series, ”Al Hoor Al Ain” (The Beautiful Maidens). Abdel Kareem Al Hmaid described the cast as &#34outcasts and sinners&#34 and said that, &#34God had disgraced them by allowing them to produce such a program.&#34 He further described the series as &#34cunning, as it mocks God”s great creation of the beautiful maidens that have been granted to the prophets, martyrs and Islam”s allies in heaven.&#34

Dr Adel Al-Abdul Jabbar, member of the committee to advise extremists of the tafkeer ideology and a Saudi religious scholar who disapproved of the series said, &#34for non-religious authorities to judge a Muslim as an infidel or sinner should not be permitted. The only party that has the right to pass such a judgment is the official court.&#34 He added, &#34Even then, the judgment should not be revealed to the public as this could lead fanatics to overreact and harm those who are judged.&#34 Dr Abdul Jabbar referred to the case of Ali Al-Khodair who retracted his takfeer thinking at a suitable time.

Dr Abdul Jabbar maintained his reservations concerning the television drama series ”Al Hoor Al Ain,” which he described as &#34daring.&#34 He noted that it failed to deal effectively with the issue of terrorism, as it did not comply with the religious context and sidelined the role of religious scholars. He further highlighted that the series should have defined the role of the state in fighting terrorism from an intellectual and security perspective.

The drama series, ”Al Hoor Al Ain” was the cause of much debate within Saudi society and between many intellectual figures. It was met with much criticism. The Syrian director of the series, Najdat Anzur further added to the controversy with a strong publicity campaign that was launched before the broadcasting of the first episode of the series. One of the advertisements showed a group of young Saudi men training with arms in Saudi Arabia. Such a scene provoked Al Qaeda sympathizers to call for the program to be taken off air, just as Anzur”s &#34The Road to Kabul&#34 had been cancelled after broadcasting the eighth episode.

During a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, Mishaal Al-Mutairi, one of the actors featuring in the program, expressed his anger at the harsh criticism that the series was attracting on internet forums. He mentioned that the cast had been insulted to such an extent that he could not repeat such disrespectful comments. A few days after the first episode had been broadcasted on television, Al-Mutairi began to receive threatening phone calls on his mobile phone.

Moreover, a group of Saudi actors has also criticized the series and considered it unrepresentative of Saudi society. They argued that the director was unable to dramatize skillfully the issues tackled. In addition, they recognized many mistakes, most notably by the non-Saudi actors whose accents failed to resemble even remotely, the Saudi dialect.