JEDDAH – The Commission for Promotion of Virtues and Prevention of Vice (the Hai’a) is cracking down on summer festivals that the government hopes will promote domestic tourism.
“These acts contradict the faith and must not be done, taught, spread or encouraged,” the Hai’a spokesman Abdullah Al-Mashiti told Al-Watan Arabic daily this week, referring to circus acts such as fire-eating and lying on beds of glass that he believes is a form of magic prohibited by Islamic Shariah law.
“They must be fought and those performing them must be reported and punished so as to be deterred and their evil restricted,” he said.
Reports suggest that the Hai’a was behind the last minute cancellation of the Jeddah summer film festival.
This month music concerts were also banned from the Abha tourism festival, in the mountainous southwest of the Kingdom. “Unfortunately such actions carried on by them (the Hai’a) do not adhere to the official political will and they sabotage the government efforts to improve and maintain the internal tourism industry,” said Mahmoud Sabbagh, a newspaper columnist. – Reuters