Saudi Arabia’s top Islamic cleric has called on parents not to let their little daughters dance in front of men as the Gulf Kingdom’s religious police threatened to punish those responsible for allowing little girls to dance during a local festival.
A film showing a group of little Saudi girls dancing on stage in front of men during the annual ‘Spring festival’ in the central town of Buraidah on Friday triggered criticism by many scholars and viewers after it went viral on social networks and local newspapers.
“Don’t teach your little daughters dancing and allow them to dance in front of men. This spoils their life, childhood and dignity,” the Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al Shaikh said on the Saudi ‘Al Majd’ TV channel.
Al Shaikh was responding to a complaint by a Saudi viewer about recurrent TV scenes showing little girls dancing at home and in public places in front of men.
“Teaching your children dancing is a mistake and crime. This is not right. I urge you to bring your children on good deeds and benevolence because in the country of Islam (Saudi Arabia), we must respect our religion.”
Newspapers later quoted officials in the conservative Kingdom’s religious police as warning they would take measures against those responsible for Friday’s event.
‘Ajel’ Arabic language daily said the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice issued the warning although its representatives were present at the ceremony on Friday, adding that they were apparently furious after a wave of angry remarks by scholars and viewers of the film.
“We will punish all those responsible for allowing the girls to dance on stage. We have also received assurances from the festival’s organisers that it was a mistake that would not be repeated,” Commission spokesman Abdullah Al Mansour said.
In another reaction, the town council denounced the incident and warned the organisers against repeating such acts.
“These acts contravene the Islamic Sharia and the social system in the Kingdom. We do not accept such behavior by anyone,” council chairman Mansour Al Arfaj said.
“This is a big mistake on the part of the festival’s organisers, who must ensure it will not be repeated. They must also punish those who are directly responsible for this.”