“Stop teaching music in Riyadh” has been among the top trending Twitter hashtags on Tuesday among a large number of activists in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh and around the world.
The hashtag appeared in response to an advertisement for a music course scheduled to start on 17 October in Riyadh sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts.
The appearance of this hashtag may be difficult to explain as the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts has been actively organising events and courses in numerous fields since 1978, including stage acts, photography and music in many of the country's cities, including Riyadh.
Supporters of the hashtag have been posting religious verses in an attempt to argue that music is banned in Islam. Critics have fired back by stating that music has always been a part of Saudi culture, sharing footage of Saudi kings and princes dancing and singing along with music during feasts and celebrations.
A number of Saudi public figures have tweeted about the issue, including imam Abdel-Rahman Al-Dhami, who said that “Riyadh is the city of science and scientists; there is no place for music and singing”.
Writer and news reporter Saad Al-Toweim chimed in by tweeting “our country is involved in a number of wars on different fronts, do we prepare for it with music?”
Although music is considered sinful by some Muslims, including the imam of the Grand Mosque of Medina, Salah Al-Budair, music festivals do exist in Saudi Arabia. The ultra-conservative country also has TV channels dedicated to music. The first, “Music Now”, was launched in 1994, and “ART5” was launched a year later.