It must be nice being a religious leader in a country like Saudi Arabia. Every word you say is carefully noted and if you don’t much like something, a single comment from you results in the activity being banned.
Such is the case with Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, who appeared on a TV broadcast recently to offer his wit and wisdom about all things Islamic.
When someone mentioned that a new craze had hit the Kingdom — people taking photos with their cats — Al-Fazwan went all medieval on viewers by forbidding the practice.
“What?! What do you mean pictures with cats? Taking pictures is prohibited. The cats don’t matter here.”
The sheikh continued: “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 translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute monitoring group.
Under the country’s strict, ultraconservative brand of Islam, known as Wahhabism, many things that are normal in Western daily life are outlawed. In January, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti allegedly ruled that chess is forbidden in the kingdom as it encourages gambling. Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said that chess was “a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players.”
Another game 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 that were displayed on the cards.
I am not one to make fun of others’ religion — except when they do idiotic things like this. And for Islam, as it is practiced by overly devout extremists in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, the urge to control human behavior on the molecular level is astonishing. When you can ban something purely on a whim or when you can create your own commandments based on a warped interpretation of your holy book, you don’t have much of a religion. You have slavery.
I thought the Catholic Church when I was growing up was stifling. These guys make the Catholic hierarchy look like Wiccans.
It’s ironic that cats were domesticated in the Middle East around 5,000 years ago. Now their descendants are being picked on by a self-important, self-styled holy man who apparently doesn’t have enough to do so he chooses to be a killjoy for pet lovers.
He probably thinks that cameras should be banned because they capture and trap your soul in that little box.