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American comedian's gig in Saudi Arabia cancelled after complaints by Islamic hardliners

Mike Epps was due to perform next week.

Image: Matt Sayles/PA

A PERFORMANCE IN Saudi Arabia by US stand-up comedian and actor Mike Epps has been cancelled, its organisers said, after complaints from Islamic hardliners.

The show, scheduled for next week, was one of numerous events lined up to begin introducing entertainment to the conservative Islamic kingdom, where alcohol, cinemas and theatres are banned.

“Dear clients, we regret to inform you that the Mike Epps event has been cancelled”, the organising company, Master Events, said on Twitter, promising a full refund.

Epps was to appear at Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, a campus exclusively for women.

“The show was cancelled by the university and not by us as organisers,” Master Events said.

Twitter users had started a hashtag, Hollywood at Noura University, calling for the show’s cancellation because it would not fit with local traditions.

Source: paulh123456/YouTube

Epps has featured in films including The Hangover.

The university has denied being behind the Epps show, saying a third party rented the conference hall and the event “was licensed by the concerned authorities”.

Wahhabi Islamic thought, on which Saudi Arabia is founded, frowns upon music and forbids representations of the human form. Local tradition disapproves of unrelated men and women mixing.

But providing more entertainment is one of the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan being pushed by the kingdom’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The 31-year-old prince, one of the kingdom’s most powerful figures, is keen to harness the energy of a young population, more than half of which is under 25.

Entertainment programmes began in October when New York theatrical group iLuminate performed at the Princess Noura University.

Hundreds of men and women, side-by-side, hooted their appreciation and clapped to the hip hop beat.

The show was followed by WWE wrestling, which took place before a male-only crowd at a separate venue.

Many Saudis spend their entertainment dollars in neighbouring Bahrain and Dubai.

© – AFP 2016

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