A Saudi TV show came under heavy criticism this week after pulling a “Ramadan prank” on a child, prompting many to call for penalizing the show’s producers.
“Pranks,” a show that airs on Saudi channel Ajial during the holy month of Ramadan, pulled a prank on a girl, no more than 10 years old. The prank included yelling at her, which brought her to tears towards the end.
Media officials requested that the show’s crew be penalized and suspended “for manipulating a child’s feelings in order to make the audience laugh.”
Twitter users also launched a campaign against the show and its employees and accused them of manipulating children’s feelings and verbally insulting them.
Salah al-Shyhi, a writer at Saudi daily Al-Watan, told Al Arabiya that the prank pulled on the child was “a violation of her rights.”
He added that this prank was not the only one that prompts concern and that the entire show’s episodes adopt the same style in prompting children to cry.
Shyhi also said that “if the child’s father is fine with what happened to his daughter, then he too must be held accountable.”
Meanwhile, Ajial’s supervisor Khaled al-Bayti told Al Arabiya that they “do not seek to intimidate children,” adding that the video of the child, which appeared on YouTube, “does not deserve all this fuss.”
Bayti added that the sketch was recorded upon the consent and presence of the child’s guardian and that the child and her father both watched it and agreed to air it.
“[We] have been airing this show for four years on the channels and it’s been very successful to the point that some parents call us to have their children participate in it,” he added.
Many Saudis, however, did not find the prank funny as Twitter users said what happened was verbal abuse and not professional because the show’s crew requested the girl to lie and then yelled at her for doing so.