Saudi Cleric Says Posing for Photos With Cats Is Forbidden

Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan railed against Saudis trying to act like Westerners.

Saudi Arabia cat ban
Tizian, a Persian cat, receives a brushing at a cat competition, Berlin, November 2, 2012. A Saudi cleric has said that photographs with cats are forbidden under the Gulf Kingdom's brand of Islamic law.Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A prominent Saudi cleric has declared photographs with cats, and other animals, forbidden unless completely necessary due to an upsurge in Saudis “who want to be like Westerners.”

On a televised broadcast, Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, was told about “a new trend of taking pictures with cats has been spreading among people who want to be like Westerners.”

He replied: “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.

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