Lankan convicted of practicing black magic

Updated 09 February 2013
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Lankan convicted of practicing black magic

A Sri Lankan domestic worker was sentenced to one in year jail and 100 lashes following a conviction for practicing black magic among his friends in Riyadh.
Sri Lankan Embassy sources said the accused was Premanath Pereralage Thungasiri, who was working as a house driver in a Saudi home.
An embassy official, who had met Thungasiri in jail, said that Thungasiri had been booked by police in the Ummul Hammam district on charges of black magic and for violating local regulations by meeting an unknown woman, which is against Saudi law.
The arrest was made in May when Thungasiri had visited another Saudi’s house to resolve a dispute involving a housemaid there. He said the maid was his relative, and during the dispute police arrested him.
Thungasiri has a wife, daughter and son at home in Padiyatalawe, 200 kilometers from Colombo.
According to a jail official, Thungasiri will complete the one-year jail term this May.
Thungasiri’s name has been listed in the amnesty list and if the clemency is given early, there are chances for him to be deported home even before his scheduled release.
The Sri Lankan Embassy is yet to receive the copy of the official court verdict on Thungasiri’s judgment through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to the verdict, Thungasiri said in a statement to the embassy that his Saudi sponsor had nothing to do with the case, and had surrendered his passport and other documents to prison authorities for his deportation.
Recently a Sri Lankan woman was arrested on suspicion of practicing witchcraft after she allegedly gazed at a child in a shopping complex while wearing a black cord around her wrist, the report said.
The organization accused the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment of not educating Sri Lankan workers traveling to Saudi Arabia on the country’s religious laws.
The diplomat also stressed millions of foreign workers who come to the Kingdom for employment are expected to abide by the host country’s regulations.

 


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 28 min 49 sec ago
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Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.