Television shows with Christian themes have sparked complaints in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon in recent days, but from different groups and for different reasons.
In Saudi Arabia, a popular sitcom has drawn the ire of conservative clerics over an episode portraying Arab Christians in a positive light after the kingdom sought to sell itself as a leader of dialogue between faiths. (Photo: Saudis watch a religious programme during Ramadan, 15 Sept 2008/Fahad Shadeed)
A two-part episode of the sitcom “Tash Ma Tash,” which has aired during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan for 17 years, showed the two main Saudi characters, both Muslims, being advised by their dying father to visit the brother of their deceased Lebanese mother.
After a tearful reunion, the pair discover their mother’s relatives were Christians and their Uncle Boutros was a priest. Despite their initial shock, the brothers slowly come to respect their uncle’s Christianity, although they try to convert him to Islam and give him a Koran.
Some Saudi clerics were not impressed. “A Muslim is allowed to praise only the one true religion — Islam,” said Eissa al-Ghaith, a judge at the Justice Ministry, in remarks carried by al-Madina newspaper on Sunday.