SAUDI ARABIA – A prominent Saudi cleric has recently declared that photographs with cats, and other animals, unless completely necessary due to an upsurge in Saudis “who want to be like Westerners.”
In a televised broadcast, Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, was alerted about “a new trend of taking pictures with cats has been spreading among people who want to be like Westerners.”
He responded: “What?! What do you mean pictures with cats? Taking pictures is prohibited. The cats don’t matter here.”
The sheikh went on to say: “Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity. Not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything.”
Footage of the televised broadcast was published on YouTube on April 17 and then translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute monitoring group.
Under the country’s strict, ultraconservative mode of Islam, known as Wahhabism, many things that are considered normal in Western daily life are outlawed. In January, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti allegedly ruled that chess is also forbidden in the kingdom as it encourages gambling. Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh believes that chess was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players.”
Another game which is to be banned in the country is the Pokemon franchise, with the grand mufti saying that it promoted other religions, such as Christianity or Judaism because of the crosses or the Jewish Star of David which were displayed on the cards.