A television show in Saudi Arabia has been suspended and an investigation launched following a formal complaint by a human rights watchdog that its presenters abused a child.
Thousands of viewers expressed dismay on social networks when the young girl was forced to lie as she attempted to answer “abusive” questions by the presenter of the gag programme broadcast on the children’s channel Ajyal, Saudi news site Sabq reported.
“We have taken the programme off air and we have launched an investigation into the incident,” Saleh Bin Abdul Aziz Al Mughaileef, the spokesperson for the Saudi radio and television, said.
“The head of the Human Rights Commission, Bandar Al Eban, has complained about the show and expressed his shock at the abuse of the child. He said that there was an abuse of the young girl’s rights and that young people are not supposed to be subjected to abusive situations, be they on television or elsewhere,” he said.
The show hosts and team have been told to apologise to the viewers for the episode.
A barrage of criticism marked the local blogosphere following the broadcast of the episode and several bloggers called for a better understanding of children’s psychology and a smarter approach towards comedy shows.
Ramadan, the sacred month for Muslims, is used by most television networks to air comedy programmes, often inspired by the Candid Camera show.
However, several viewers have complained that most show hosts often failed to create “light and fun moments” and tended instead to push “scary and frustrating situations” to the extreme.