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--Saudi Man's Sexual Revelations Aired on LBC Chat Show Leads to His Arrest

--Could Face Death Penalty

A Saudi man could face a death sentence in the Muslim kingdom for speaking about his sexual adventures on a talk show aired by a Lebanon-based television network, lawyers said on Saturday. The case could further fortify the role of clerics who have been policing an already conservative society to safeguard moral values set according to the Wahhabi school of Islam which bars interaction between unrelated men and women. It would also serve as a blow to liberals pushing for reform in the face of stern resistance from clerics, analysts say. The police arrested Mazen Abdul-Jawad, 32, on Friday for "publicizing vice", a police spokesman in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah said. "His case will be forwarded to the commission for investigation and prosecution," said Sulaiman al-Mutaiwea. Lawyers said Abdul-Jawad could face a death sentence or a 20-year jail sentence. The Saudi justice system is controlled by clerics and is inspired by an austere school of Islam. "It all depends on the judge's point of view since there are no precise sentences for offences like this. But the judge may show no flexibility towards him and could sentence him to death by stoning to set an example," lawyer Suleiman al-Alwan said.

The arrest came after media reports that about 200 Saudi viewers filed complaints after he appeared on a tabloid talk show aired by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), which is controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Abdul-Jawad spoke openly of his sexual experiences on the talk show, "In Bold Red" last month. Like many Arab countries Saudi Arabia prohibits sexual content on television, newspapers, magazines and books. The divorced father of four children, filmed at his Jeddah apartment, said at the time that he first had sex at the age of 14 with a neighbor and displayed items related to his sex life including a sex guide which he said: "Has been very useful". He led the television camera to his bedroom saying: "My friends always say that whoever enters this room has to personally bear responsibility ... I spend most of my life in this bedroom ... everything happens in this room".

He was shown driving his red convertible to a shopping mall where he said he could pick up girls by communicating with them through Bluetooth functions on his mobile telephone. Bluetooth applications allow a discreet way of communication between men and women in public areas in many parts of the Arab world where the society frowns upon relationships between men and women outside wedlock. Analysts expect the case of Abdul-Jawad to give fresh momentum to clerics' calls for strict curbs. In an article published on Saturday, al-Watan newspaper, known for being a tribune for reformists, strongly criticized Abdul-Jawad's remarks and the Lebanese channel for airing them.
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Title Annotation:Today's News Highlights
Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Aug 3, 2009
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