Inside the Middle East
August 10, 2009
Posted: 803 GMT

By Mohammed Jamjoom

(CNN) - The Saudi Arabian office of a Lebanese television station was shut down after the station aired an interview with a Saudi man who bragged about his sex life, authorities said.

Saudi authorities closed the office of LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation) for "two reasons," Abdul-Rahman Al-Hazza, spokesman for Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Information, told CNN.

"No valid operating license, and a violation of media policy in Saudi Arabia."

He said LBC violated the media policy by filming and subsequently airing an episode of its popular show "A Thick Red Line" featuring Mazen Abdul Jawad, a 32-year-old airline employee and divorced father of four who spoke openly about his sexual escapades, his love of sex and losing his virginity at age 14.

Abdul Jawad is also shown in his bedroom, where he holds sexual aids up to the camera. The episode ends with him cruising the streets of Jeddah in his car looking for women.

The episode caused an uproar in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia, where Sharia law, or strict Islamic law, is practiced. Pre-marital sex is illegal, and unrelated men and women are not permitted to mingle.

The segment in question has been posted on the video sharing site YouTube since its initial broadcast last month, and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Local media reported Abdul Jawad was arrested a few days after the program aired, and has been detained since last week. Some reports have suggested he could face punishments as severe as flogging or even the death penalty for the alleged crime of publicizing vice.

Suleiman Al-Mutawae, acting spokesman for Jeddah police, told Arab News, an English-language daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia, that speaking about promiscuous acts "is a violation of the Sharia regulations on the one hand and against Saudi customs on the other." All newspapers require government permission to publish in Saudi Arabia.

Before Abdul Jawad's detention, Arab News reported he initiated a damage-control campaign, apologized for his comments and was considering filing a complaint against the show's producers for presenting him "in the worst possible manner by taking two hours of footage and condensing it down to a minute-long segment."

CNN has been unable to reach Abdul Jawad or his lawyer for comment. LBC has not commented on the situation.

Asked how long LBC's Jeddah offices will be closed, Al-Hazza said it was "too early to ask that question," but noted that only the Jeddah offices of the channel had been shut down. LBC's Riyadh office remains open, he said.

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Filed under: Media •Saudi Arabia

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G.   August 10th, 2009 3:53 pm ET

Arresting seems the basic answer to most problems. Counciling is more expensive. I guess there are reasons for cheap stuff – it certainly happens in the U.S.

G.   August 12th, 2009 2:03 pm ET

This is like a cartoon? Who cares about another person's sex life? How stupid in general. So we have no more enlightening news.

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