Prior to Ramadhan, a scene from the popular show Tash Ma Tash was leaked. The leaked scene was circulated on the web and via Bluetooth. However, this scene did not make it to the TV screen because the episode from which the scene was taken was banned. Since this episode was portraying the men of the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (aka the Religious Police), it was expected that it would be banned, but the leaked scene has given people a preview of what they are going to watch during the month.
The Islamists were very happy about the ban that they went talking about it as a victory during the first few days of Ramadhan, while those of us waiting for the episode were very disappointed that MBC has bent down to the enemies of freedom and enlightenment. It was only a matter of time before the whole banned episode, titled “Salon Al Hay’a”, was available for download on some websites and forums. I have downloaded the episode and watched it, and let me say that if some people have complained that the makers of the show were exaggerating some of the negative phenomena in our society, there was not any kind of exaggeration in this episode. Every scene in this episode is derived from true stories that occurred repeatedly in different forms over the past few years, and the makers have even emphasized on portraying what is considered ‘the bright side’ of the Religious Police by showing some good examples.
The enemies of freedom of expression should learn a lesson from what happened: censorship is no good; not anymore. Thanks to the internet, it simply does not work, at least not the way it used to do. Moreover, there is an important question to be answered here, not about Tash Ma Tash, but rather about the power of this institution. As we have seen, many parts of the government were harshly criticized in the show, including parts far more important than the Religious Police, but this episode was the only one to be banned. The government should be serious about limiting the power of this institution and those who stand behind it, otherwise we will end up with a state within the state some day, and by then we will have a more dangerous problem to deal with than some satire TV show.