Should children watch beheadings?
The Saudi Gazette, September 12, 2005

JEDDAH: Educators and religious scholars are mostly against letting children watch Shariah court verdicts like beheading, stoning to death, amputation or lashing, a report said Sunday.

I am of the view that children must be forbidden from watching the execution of Shariah penalties so that we are able to protect our future generations from negative effects, in the same way as some countries that prevent children from watching films with horrifying scenes, Dr. Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al-Dakheel, Assistant Professor of Social Service in King Saud University, told the Arabic daily Okaz.

Shariah penalties are carried out in an open yard in full view of the public. This is so as to deter others from committing similar crimes.

However, the educators and religious scholars Okaz spoke to opined that children should be spared such blood-chilling sights as beheadings and amputations.

The experience could deeply affect children, and plague them all their lives, Dakheel said, citing what he said were proven scientific studies.

He drew a comparison with violent scenes in movies and how ratings have come about to keep children below 18 years of age away from them.

Dr. Ali Bin Abdullah Al-Afnan, Dean of the Teacher s Training College in Riyadh argued from a psychological perspective and said the mental immaturity of childhood should be taken in consideration. Children go by their feelings, from what they see and hear, and which influences their conduct and personality, he explained.

He felt that it is the duty of fathers to not expose their children to painful atmospheres and experiences. Psychological researches have proved that violent scenes have a direct affect in molding a child s personality.

Exposing children to violent and gruesome scenes may make them aggressive and effect their personality, he said.

Dr. Eid Bin Abdullah Al-Shammari, former member of the Shoura Council, however, thought otherwise.

He said such exposure would be beneficial and deter children from taking to crime.

Deterrence is not only for adults but also for children, he said.

Besides, witnessing scenes would help curb the violent tendencies in many students who attack their teachers and smash their cars, he maintained.

Such deeds were not there in the past.

Sheikh Sa eed Al-Helayyil Al-Amr, director of the Religious Studies Institute in Hail, was against children accompanying their fathers to the public square where Shariah penalties are carried out.

He said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to order Muslims to bring their children to perform prayers during the two Eid feasts, but he did not order them to watch the execution of Shariah penalties.

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