The Saudi Arabian government, in an effort to spice up their entertainment industry, allowed the first Comic-Con Festival in the country to be hosted in Jeddah, arguably the most liberal city in the Kingdom.
However, things apparently went too far, and religious figures have condemned the event, according to Reuters. In addition, the organizers of the event have apparently been penalized with a violation--though, of what, is still unclear.
This Twitter user could perhaps give us some insight into why the government was making such a fuss:
لاسقاط اي مجتمع يتم اولا مهاجمة قيمة الصغرى حتى تسقط ثم تتوالي الهجمات . مايسمى بتاثير احجار الدومينو#السعوديه #كوميكون_جدة pic.twitter.com/0FhHKgkqls— ALI ALSSAIARI (@aboeinas) February 22, 2017
To topple any society, first you must attack the youth’s values until they fall. Then come the other attacks. This is the domino effect.
Another user gave a more straightforward condemnation of the branch of government responsible for overseeing entertainment and the Saudi Comic-Con organizers for condoning outrageous behaviour (read: mixing of the sexes):
ألغيت #هيئة_الأمر_بالمعروف لتستبدل ب #هيئة_الأمر_بالمنكر— كُنْ واعياً (@Be_wa3i) February 22, 2017
#خيانه_هييه_الترفيه هذا اختلاطهم وفضيحتهم في #كوميكون_جدة على #CNN pic.twitter.com/xQZq4oVC0k
The Commission to Pomote Virtue has been replaced by the Commission to Promote Vice! The Authority for Entertainment [has betrayed us]. This is their promotion of the mixing of sexes and scandal at Comic-Con Jeddah on CNN.
In a nation where television was banned until 1964, and where you literally have to drive to another country to watch a movie, the objection to Comic-Con is far from surprising. After all, there was arguably a lot of “haram” (an Arabic/Islamic term that means forbidden) going on at the event, when you look at it from a conservative Saudi perspective.
In addition to males and females in the same room, there were costumes. There were women in costumes. There was rock music. There was Julian Glover of the famous Game of Thrones series encouraging the Saudi government to allow films in the country. So much haram!
Even so, the fact that the event was allowed to be put on in the first place, and that an estimated 7,000 Saudis showed up, means that not everyone in the desert kingdom is staunchly conservative. If we took the flip side of the domino comparison provided by the Twitter user above, perhaps this is the beginning step to a freer, more inclusive Saudi Arabia that all started with some kids with nerdy hobbies and a passion for pop culture.
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