RIYADH (Reuters) – The head of Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Sharia courts has said owners of Arabic television stations airing immodest shows in Ramadan could face execution, Saudi web sites said on Friday.


Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, one of the most powerful clerics in the world’s biggest oil exporter, was responding to a question on a radio phone-in program on Wednesday about the owners of TV stations airing programs that “offend modesty”, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.


“If the evil of those who promote corruption in belief and actions cannot be held back through lesser punishments, then they can be put to death through the judicial process,” Lohaidan, head of the Supreme Judicial Council said.


Recordings of the show were posted on web sites and passed around by mobile phone message in Saudi Arabia.


He appeared to be referring to Turkish soap operas that became hugely popular in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries this year, provoking a storm of anger among conservatives in Saudi Arabia who fear the spread of secular culture.


They gained huge popularity partly because they were dubbed into colloquial Arabic and focused on a Muslim country whose culture many Arabs can relate to. The characters would fast in Ramadan but also drink wine.


The government’s official advisor on religious


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