A Saudi court on Wednesday sentenced a man who caused uproar by bragging about his sex life on television to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes, according to Ministry of Information officials.
Mazen Abdul Jawad, a 32-year-old airline employee and divorced father of four, spoke openly about his sexual escapades, his love of sex and losing his virginity at age 14. He made the comments on Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, which aired the interview a few months ago. Saudi authorities shut down LBC offices in Jeddah and Riyadh after airing the interview on an episode of its popular show “A Thick Red Line.” Abdul Jawad was arrested shortly after the program aired and charged with violating Saudi Arabia’s crime of publicizing vice. On the program, Abdul Jawad is also shown in his bedroom, where he holds sexual aids up to the camera. The episode ends with him cruising the streets of Jeddah in his car looking for women. The episode caused an uproar in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia, where sharia, or Islamic law, is practiced. Pre-marital sex is illegal, and unrelated men and women are not permitted to mingle.
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The segment in question has been posted on the video-sharing site YouTube since its initial broadcast last month, and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Speaking about promiscuous acts “is a violation of the sharia regulations on the one hand and against Saudi customs on the other,” police spokesman Suleiman Al-Mutawae told Arab News, an English-language daily newspaper in Saudi Arabia. Before Jawad’s detention, Arab News reported that he initiated a damage-control campaign, apologized for his comments and was considering filing a complaint against the show’s producers for presenting him “in the worst possible manner by taking two hours of footage and condensing it down to a minutes-long segment.” Jawad’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. The ministry officials spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity.