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Death of a Princess

Reader comment on item: Bridges TV, a Wife's Beheading, and Honor Murder

Submitted by Fay Voshell (United States), Feb 21, 2009 at 10:59

I don't know how many people on this blog recall the 1980 television docu-dram entitled Death of a Princess. The TV special created a diplomatic ruckus because the Saudi government protested the piece being shown, as it depicted the honor Killing of a young Saudi princess whose crime had been adultery. There was no disputing the fact she'd been executed, but the Saudi govermnment did not want the embarrassment of its medieval ways revealed to the West. The BBC refused to capitulate, and showed the film anyway.

That was then and this is now. As Mark Steyn points out in a National Review online essay, not only would the present day top brass of the BBC capitulate, but they would probably issue a statement against the producers of such a film.

And, as a matter of fact, just try to find a copy of the film. I just spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a copy...and nada. Netflix has 50,000 films and doesn't carry it. Amazon.com sells everything, but also doesn't sell copies. And so it goes. Wikipedia has a blurb discribing the piece as a "fictionalized account." The film obviously has been supressed.

But that's not all that's creepy. I noticed that when "America's Most Wanted" did a story on Sarah and Amaina Said's deaths at the hands of their Muslim father, John Walsh had the producers do a scene in which one of the daughter's male friends carefully explained to her that her father's treatment of young women had "nothing to do with Islam." The term 'honor killing" was not used ONCE to describe the father's murders of his own daughters; nor was the fact their brother lured the girls back to the house for their execution mentioned.

Very troubling, mainly because abuse, sometimes fatal abuse, of Muslim women is being covered up because of political correctness--even here in our own country.

And to Muslims, I would say, "If this sort of thing is not part of your Muslim heritage, why don't you vigorously expose, condemn and prosecute each and every incident rather than just proclaim this is alien to the true Muslim faith?

Fay Voshell

Submitting....

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Daniel Pipes replies:

Here is my account of the film from 1983 (the first part of the text is available at Google Books):

Deference to the [Saudi] sheikhs extended so far that they won near-immunity from public criticism. The outstanding example of this occurred in the spring of 1980 and involved a British television film, "Death of a Princess." The film described events surrounding the execution in 1977 of two Saudi lovers, a royal woman and a common man. Called an "unprincipled attack" on Islam by the Saudi government, the film was in fact the account of a journalist's attempt to pursue a news story in a secretive environment. Saudi pressure induced the British Foreign Office to announce that it "profoundly regret[ted] any offence which the film may have caused in Saudi Arabia," while the foreign minister, Lord Carrington, personally apologized for the "understandable offence . . . this particular television film has caused to the royal family in Saudi Arabia, and other Saudis and Muslims everywhere." While Riyadh "studied" its economic ties with the United Kingdom, the government in London pressured the film makers to tone down the offending scenes. In the United States, the Mobil Corporation ran advertisements urging the film not be shown "in the light of what is in the best interest of the United States," while the acting secretary of state took the unprecedented step of conveying a Saudi letter of protest to the television network which was to air the film. New Zealand television withheld screening of the film for overtly political reasons and even the Dutch government tried to prevent its showing.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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