CDHR’s Commentary: Due to the Saudi government’s harsh and unnatural policy against all forms of public musical and theatrical entertainment, Saudis resort to dangerous and illegal activities such as the outlawed nomadic tradition of live ammunitions to celebrate their “victories” or happy occasions. As shown in this article, such celebratory gunfire led to the deaths of more than twenty people due to the bullets damaging electric wires during recent wedding festivities. Live public music and dancing are prohibited because they are considered un-Islamic, and therefore must be banned.
Joyous activities are considered diversionary behaviors that interfere with people’s focus on prayers, God, and the goodwill of the rulers in Saudi Arabia. In other words, happy indulgences are considered evil or “the West’s decadent inventions,” designed to corrupt Saudi moral values and destroy Muslim cultures. The Saudi government and the Wahhabi religious establishment fear a population that is not always somber and concentrating on their devotion to Islam, as interpreted by the religious extremists and sanctioned by the Saudi rulers. They consider entertainment debauched, they strictly ban movie theaters and severely censor television shows, and they prohibit women from participating in sports, publically and privately.
Many Saudis spend their holiday breaks and annual vacations in Gulf countries in order to experience entertainment denied to them in their own country. The majority of movie theater goers in neighboring Bahrain during weekends and holiday periods are Saudis citizens. It is estimated that one million Saudis crossed the border to celebrate their most important religious holiday, Eid Adha, in Dubai to get away from their country’s stifling taboos and indulge in social activities not allowed in Saudi Arabia. Others resort to secret or banned activities such as playing in underground bands, knowing that they could be arrested and punished by the system’s omnipresent spying agents, specifically the state’s religious police, who enforce their interpretation of religious laws on all citizens and expatriates regardless of religious beliefs and orientations.
The tragic deaths and injuries during the recent Abqaiq wedding celebration in, eastern Saudi Arabia, as well as many other unreported incidents, could have been avoided had normal entertainment such as a musical band been allowed to entertain the families and invited guests, instead of forcing the celebrators to fire their guns in the air to show their joyous passion during weddings and other occasions and in the process, cause the deaths of innocent people.