Thursday, 19 August 2010

Hope For Saudi Arabia?

A role reversal comedy shown on Saudi television recently depicted a woman marrying four husbands in a deliberate attempt to place the boot on the other foot regarding the male right in Islam to practice polygamy. The comedy was an episode in Saudi Arabia’s most celebrated satirical series, "Tash Ma Tash" or "No Big Deal", a take-off of social prejudices shown annually during Ramadan.

The central character takes four husbands, explaining herself using the conventional arguments Saudi men use to exercise their legal and religious privilege of marrying four times. Another sketch shown recently on the show depicted Muslims being warmly surprised by the respect they feel towards a Christian priest.

Predictably, the show has been criticised by the usual Wahhabi Islamic clerics, but the fact that it was able to get airtime at all in the draconian sharia state of Saudi Arabia is very encouraging. I have little hope at the moment that it will lead to any serious self-reflection and critical scrutiny of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, but this adoption of Western-style self-deprecating satire is extremely welcome indeed.

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