Opening of Cinema halls in Saudi generates debate


Srinagar: With Saudi Arabia deciding to lift the ban on cinemas after 35-year, the move has triggered a debate in this part of the world, where the cinema culture has been missing to find a place after the advent of militancy in the region.

From Chief Minster Mehbooba Mufti to separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, the move has been either criticized or has been applauded as per varied frame of references.

Mehbooba resorted to twitter to welcome the move by Saudi Arabia, “I welcome the decision by Saudi Arabia to lift a decade-long ban on cinemas as part of a series of social reforms by the crown prince. Introspection & self reform are marks of a progressive society,” she tweeted.

On the other front, Geelani had altogether a different view—a religious view—to counter the development that happened in the lands of Saudi Arabia, quite contrary to what CM said in her tweet—a ‘progressive society’ remark. 

Geelani, in a statement said that opening movie theatres is an ‘un-Islamic’ move and against the norms of Islam and particularly keeping in view the sanctity of the place, “the move is quite disheartening and unacceptable,” he said.

According to a statement that was issued, Geelani expressed his dismay over allowing movie theatres in Saudi Arabia, saying that, the Messenger of Allah started his pious mission from the sacred land of Saudi Arabia against ‘infidels’ and ‘polytheism’ and purified the land from all evils.

He further went on, cautioning about the consequences of the move, Geelani said “rulers in Saudi Arabia, being the custodian of Holy places like Madeena and Mecca, need to take care the sacred places,” however, he said  “it is quite unfortunate that present ruling elite are allowing and promoting same obscene culture, which Islam has prohibited.”

According to reports the Saudi Government is expected to open more than 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry that would contribute more than 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs over the same period.

Regional cinema chains have also been eyeing the Saudi market, keen to tap the spending power of the young people who make up roughly 70 percent of the kingdom’s population, reports further said.

Earlier, Naeem Akhtar, Public Works Minister in his tweet tried to point towards a different direction: availability of everything on net, “Now think about Kashmir where we have denied people this legitimate entertainment. Even as everything is available on net. Think time,” he tweeted.

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