The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under its Vision 2030 plan, has allowed the building of cinema halls and entertainment centres in the city of Madina. Madina is a major Islamic pilgrimage centre and is regarded as the second holiest city in the Islamic faith.
The decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is part of a strategic framework to reduce the dependence of the country on oil and diversify it to other sectors such as health, education, recreation and tourism. However, the decision is being frowned upon by fundamentalist Muslims across the world, especially in India and Pakistan.
The outrage started after Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Pakistani Islamic scholar, former judge, and current Vice President and Professor of Hadith at Darul Uloom Karachi, quote-tweeted a November tweet of Municipality of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah and said, “Now there are plans to set up ten cinema halls in Madina too.” The tweet mentioned that they are planning to build 28 shops, ten cinema halls, 32 restaurants, 2 locations for entertainment, 19 open areas, and more on King’s Road. The project was expected to be completed in 14 months. The commercial establishments, however, will be outside the boundary of the holy place, as per reports.
اب مدينه منوره ميں بھی دس سنیما ہال قائم کرنے کا منصوبہ !!!انا للّٰہ واناالیہ راجعون الفاظ اس پر صدمے کے اظہار سے عاجز ہیں الیس منکم رجل رشید؟ https://t.co/451ERD1xOf— Muhammad Taqi Usmani (@muftitaqiusmani) September 3, 2021
The latest name to have jumped into the controversy is the infamous Raza Academy of Mumbai. They are running a campaign on social media platforms urging King Salman of Saudi Arabia to take back the decision. In the poster shared in the campaign, Raza Academy has demanded to impose a ban on cinema halls in Madina Shareef.
सऊदी हुकूमत ने मदीना शरीफ मैं सिनेमा घर— Raza Academy (@razaacademyho) September 22, 2021
खोलने का ऐलान किया है
इसके खिलाफ 23 सितम्बर 2021 को मुंबई मैं उलमाये अहले सुन्नत का एहतेजाज होगा
आप भी टवीटर पर #BanCinemaInMadinaShareef के साथ टवीट करके इस एहतेजाज मैं शामिल हो#ShameOnYouSaudiGovt @KingSalman@KSAembassyIND
को टैग करे pic.twitter.com/EdEbecJUBq
Following the trend, Mohsin Raza wrote, “Muslims go to holy cities to ask forgiveness from Allah not to commit sins by watching movies.”
One Farid Khan wrote, “Ban Cinema In Madina Shareef. Shame On You, Saudi Govt. Shame On You, King Salman.”
Raza Academy held a protest march and staged a demonstration outside Minara Masjid, Mumbai against the Saudi government’s decision to open cinema halls in Madina Shareef. The protestors were heard raising slogans, “Saudi Hukumat Murdabad”. They also held placards that read, “Saudi Government Must Stop Desecration of The Holy City of Madina Munawwarah” and more.
Today Raza Academy staged a demonstration outside Minara Masjid, Mumbai against Saudi government for opening cinema halls in Madina Munawwara #BanCinemaInMadinaShareef#ShameOnYouSaudiGovt@KingSalman@KSAembassyIND pic.twitter.com/sxLCtKhISZ— Raza Academy (@razaacademyho) September 23, 2021
Today Raza Academy stage a demonstration against Saudi government for opening cinema halls in Madina Munawwara#BanCinemaInMadinaShareef#ShameOnYouSaudiGovt@KingSalman@KSAembassyIND pic.twitter.com/krKNfSYe39— Raza Academy (@razaacademyho) September 23, 2021
Another user claimed the move to start cinemas in Madian will disturb the peace of Muslims.
I strongly oppose the move of saudi to open cinema hall in the holy city of madina this move should not be entertained by any one as it can hurt a huge number of muslim population which in return could lead to instability of muslim peace. #BanCinemaInMadinaShareef pic.twitter.com/QhyE5DhOxm— Zeenat (@ClownBurning) September 23, 2021
A brief background of Raza Academy
Raza Academy is not an unknown name to the controversies. In February 2021, the academy forced BBC to issue an apology for hurting the sentiments of Muslims as they ‘displayed a portrait of Muhammad’. In October 2020, Raza Academy threatened to file a case against the Maharashtra government if they did not give permission to carry out the Eid-e-Milad procession during the Covid pandemic. In December 2020, Saeed Noori, the founding member of Raza Academy, had claimed that the Chinese vaccine contains pork and urged the Indian government not to order it. In May 2020, Saeed Noori and 125 other people were booked for violating social distancing norms amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
In August 2011, Raza Academy had staged a morcha at Azad Maidan ground to protest against the alleged atrocities on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar, which later turned into a riot. Some violent elements had vandalised public property and attacked police personnel. Resulting in damages and injuries. 2 persons had died in retaliatory firing by police.