Riyadh, Jun 19 (AFP) Saudi Arabia today sacked the head of its entertainment authority, state media said, following a conservative backlash against a circus featuring women wearing figure-hugging costumes.
“Ahmad al-Khatib, chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority has been removed from his position,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) tweeted citing a royal decree, without giving a reason.
The pro-government Sabq news website said Khatib was dismissed over a controversial circus performance in Riyadh, which included women wearing “indecent clothes”.
A video circulating on social media appeared to show a female performer in a tight pink costume, drawing outrage from Saudi arch-conservatives.
Saudi officials did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment.
Khatib’s sacking comes in the midst of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s far-reaching reforms that have ended decades-long bans on women driving, cinemas and mixed-gender concerts.
The vigorous backlash against what was widely identified online as a Russian circus underscores the challenges facing the prince as he seeks to modernise a country steeped in conservatism.
“Cynics who lightly dismiss the colossal challenges that (the prince) faces in his social reforms should view this video of young Saudi men passionately denouncing the presence of a Russian circus with women performers in their country,” tweeted Ali Shihabi, director of the pro-Saudi, Washington-based think tank, Arabia Foundation.
The video posted by Shihabi included a cutaway shot from the circus and monologues from several men who emphasised the need to uphold Islamic principles. (AFP) AQS
This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.