Last updated: 17 August, 2011

Palestinians order satirical show off air

The Palestinian attorney general has ordered a popular television satire off the air after a chorus of complaints, media sources told AFP on Wednesday.

The programme, known in Arabic as “Watan ala Watar” (“Nation hanging by a Thread”), was unplugged under an order citing complaints about its satirisation of everyone from doctors to police officials, television industry sources said.

One Palestinian television official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the order accused the programme of crossing red lines and inappropriately skewering public figures.

Several groups had complained about the show, he said.

“The decision … followed complaints from the president of the anti-corruption commission Rafik Natsheh, the head of the doctors’ union, and the director of the Palestinian police,” the source quoted the order as saying.

“Of course, we will abide by the order of the attorney general and respect the law,” he said.

Imad Farajin, a co-creator of the show which has been running since 2009, criticised the order as “a blow to Palestinian democracy.”

“This decision violates national rights which are protected by law and the constitution,” he told AFP.

The programme is broadcast daily during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, a peak time for television viewers in the region, and on a weekly basis for the rest of the year.

It has gained a following for its unprecedented tongue-in-cheek criticism of Palestinian and foreign leaders, as well as institutions, with clips also circulating online, especially on YouTube.

Farajin said he was shocked by the order.

“In the past, we used to parody people by name and no one attacked us, but this year we didn’t mention anyone by name and we get these complaints from the doctors, police and the anti-corruption committee,” he said.