Saudi Arabia's crazy new media rules


Undeterred by protesters calling for freedom in other parts of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has announced some incredibly silly amendments to make its media law even more restrictive than it was before..

The amendments make it a crime to publish material that harms "the good reputation and honour" of the grand mufti, members of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars and government officials. Arab News adds:

"The amendments also specify that it is a crime to publishing anything that goes against the shariah, damages state interests, serves foreign interests, promotes criminal activity, threatens public order or harms national security.

"The media are also not allowed to publish details of ongoing investigations or trials without the prior permission of competent authorities.

"Individuals found guilty can face a fine of up to SR500,000 [$133,000] or SR1,000,000 for repeat offenders and/or a ban on their works being published or appearing in the media.

"Organisations found guilty of violating the kingdom's media law risk being shut down temporarily or permanently."

These rules – which are broad enough to include almost anything the authorities deem objectionable – also apply to online publications, which were brought under the aegis of the media law 
last January.

The Saudi Gazette has more details of the amendments in English and al-Watan has the full text in Arabic.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 30 April 2011.