In March 2008, the former head of the Kingdom’s Supreme Judicial Council Sheikh Saleh Al-Luhaidan issued a fatwa permitting the killing “through the judiciary” of owners of Arab satellite television channels broadcasting “lewd” content, describing them as “corrupters in the land” and propagators of “fitna” – discord.
The same month Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Barrak denounced two Saudi writers for articles “conflicting with Shariah”, and urged that they be prosecuted on charges of apostasy, saying that unless they retract what they had expressed they “should be killed as apostates, and their bodies not washed for burial nor shrouded, with no prayers said for them and no mourning by Muslims”.
Al-Barrack’s fatwa was backed by a supporting statement from 20 Saudi scholars published on the Internet.
In 2009 the “Mickey Mouse” fatwa stole the headlines in Western news outlets. The fatwa was met with sharp condemnation from Arab and Saudi writers. The author of the fatwa, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajjid was reported as describing the cartoon’s character as “one of Satan’s soldiers”. In the light of the “unexpected” international response, the former member of Saudi embassy staff in Washington D.C. later posted a video on the Internet refuting the remarks. “I have been aware for over 40 years, like everyone else, that Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character,” Sheikh Al-Munajjid said to the camera. “What I said was not a fatwa for Mickey Mouse to be killed, no rational person would say such a thing.” Al-Munajjid instead explained that what he issued was a ruling on harmful animals. “The true subject being discussed was harmful rodents and mice, not Mickey.” – SG