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Fatwa bans Morocco’s candid camera

Show deceives, scars people: preacher

Morocco’s candid camera stirred controversy in religious circles and triggered the issuing of a fatwa that prohibits the show for alleged violation of Islamic principles.

Sheikh Adnan Zohar, member of the Fatwa Committee at the Scholarly Council in the Atlantic city of el-Jedida, issued a fatwa prohibiting Taxi 36, aired daily on state T.V. since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, and similar candid camera shows.

“These programs are among the most grave and abhorrent of sins,” Zohar said in his fatwa.

Candid camera shows, Zohar argued, are "based on deceiving people, which means actors are involved in one of the greatest sins, lying."

“Even if this lying is for fun, it is still a sin. There is a saying by the prophet that condemns anyone who lies for the sake of making people laugh.”

Candid camera shows, Zohar added, terrify people through involving them in distressing situations.

“In several candid camera episodes you would see a man crying, a woman calling out for help, or frightened people. Instilling fear in people is against Islam.”

Zohar argued that this type of shows could endanger people’s lives since some guests might be diabetic or suffer from hypertension or heart problems.

“Those could sustain severe damages or even die when subjected to stressful situations.”

Candid camera, Zohar added, also "makes fun of people and humiliates them in public."

“It is also a waste of money and it distracts people who are supposed to spend their time in praying and worshipping.”

These reasons, Zohar stated, make Taxi 36 and other candid camera shows prohibited and render all those taking part in them, whether producers or actors, sinners.

In several candid camera episodes you would see a man crying, a woman calling out for help, or frightened people. Instilling fear in people is against Islam

Sheikh Adnan Zohar

For entertainment only

Islamic scholar Sheikh Mohamed al-Taweel disagreed with Zohar and refused to condone the prohibition of candid camera shows.

“These shows aim at entertaining people and we cannot prohibit jokes in principle,” he told Al Arabiya. “If those jokes scar people, they are not recommended, but still not prohibited.”

The two actors in Taxi 36, Rashid al-Alali and Hisham Misrar, pretend to be taxi drivers and comic situations take place as several passengers get into this taxi and react to the strange behavior of the cabbie.

For example, the driver would pretend to have an epilepsy fit or would fall asleep while driving. In other cases, he would tell passengers that he is an outlaw and the police are looking for him.

In response to the criticism directed at Taxi 36, Alali and Misrar stressed that their show does not mean to poke fun at people, but only to entertain them and put a smile on their face.

Journalist Yusuf Hanani does not find the show funny and argues that it does not even do its alleged job entertaining Moroccans.

“This show seems to force the audience to smile,” he wrote in al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki newspaper. “Creators and actors of this show do not know the difference between making people laugh and making people a laughing stock.”

(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)

These shows aim at entertaining people and we cannot prohibit jokes in principle

Sheikh Mohamed al-Taweel