Dubai, March 24: THE 99 aka The Ninety-Nine, the world’s first animated series depicting superheroes based on Islamic culture and society, has been banned by a Saudi Arabia government agency.
THE 99 animated television series, originally a comic book series, has been banned by Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta (religious edicts), the Gulf News reported Monday. A Saudi national, Sa’ad Hassan Al Shammari approached the committee seeking a ban on the series.
The seven-member committee said the TV series screened on Saudi-owned television channel MBC3 could not be tolerated and should be banned. “People who want to teach others about god’s attributes should use legitimate ways,” the committee was quoted as saying.
The popular series was created in 2007 by Kuwaiti author Naif Al-Mutawa and has been aired on TV in 70 countries across the world. Also in Kuwait, a local lawyer filed a lawsuit against the animated show addressed to children, claiming that its plot was a blatant representation of god’s attributes.
The animation series based on 99 attributes of the Allah in Islam had created unease among the people of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The series has also been slammed for confusing children’s minds by featuring characters that had powers equal to those of god.
However, Al Mutawa, who heads the Teshkeel Media Group that publishes the comic book series, said the series had garnered universal acclaim, including from the Emir of Kuwait and US President Barack Obama.
“However, I never thought they would go as far as accusing me of blasphemy and atheism. I am surprised that this is happening in Kuwait, a country of law that respects the constitution and freedoms,” Al Mutawa said.
According to him, the series played a constructive role in presenting a positive image about the Islamic culture at international events. Al Mutawa said his work was under an Islamic company and funded by an Islamic bank.
The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta is an Islamic organisation in Saudi Arabia established by the the Saudi king that issues rulings in Islamic jurisprudence.