The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Good News for cartoon characters 

Thanks to "Robert" to alerting me to this. It looks like, over at Dudley Council in the English Midlands, the previously-banished Piglet is about to be rehabilitated in society.

Toy pig ban climbdown

Race equality rules are being reviewed at Dudley Council after workers were told to remove toy pigs from desks because they offended a Muslim staff member.
Council leaders say they will not accept "extreme forms of political correctness". Last month the Express & Star revealed how staff in the council's benefits department were told to remove a series of toy pigs sent as a promotion, as well as pig imagery, from their desks.
It came after a complaint from a Muslim worker who said she was offended by the items - the Koran forbids Muslims from eating and touching pork.

So it's not yet a "done deal", but they do at least realize that the rules could be silly, and need reviewing. For example

She said that under the current rules, staff could even be asked to remove a football scarf if colleagues claimed they were offended.

For those on the other side of the pond, a "football scarf" is something that winds round your neck and bears the colors of your favorite soccer team. By definition, it offends all supporters of all the other competing soccer teams, so there's lots of scope for being offended there. But the biggest offense is probably the one I commit. On Saturday afternoons, I wear the scarf of Tottenham Hotspur, famous for its large number of London Jewish supporters; if that doesn't offend the more lunatic of my fellow-Muslims, what will?

Meanwhile, back in Saudi Arabia, there is more good news for all the little cartoon people.

Cartoons herald return of cinema to Saudi Arabia

In what is either:

- the new King striking a blow against the conservative religious establishment, or

- an empty gesture in the absence of any real tangible progress

(delete one or other depending on personal optimism / pessimism profile)

we learn that

After an absence of about 20 years, cinema will make a tentative return to Saudi Arabia next month with a screening of cartoons for an audience of women and children. A one-hour programme of foreign cartoons dubbed into Arabic will be shown at a hotel in Riyadh three times a night for two weeks, starting from November 2 or 3, when the holy month of Ramadan ends.

Supposedly we used to have cinemas, although driving around, you don't see cinema-like buildings converted into carpet showrooms or (obviously!) Bingo Halls. However the cinema, if only one, is back, in a conference hall of the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh. Women and children only, of course, we don't want any of that American or European naughtiness going on in the back row. And only cartoons, because, as you can imagine, real people in films can lead to all sorts of issues. After all, if we ask our friendly local Imam what is haram (forbidden) to watch, he will tell us that

but what is haram is showing programs that go against the shari`ah, such as showing women who are dressed and undressed, the drinking of alcohol, relations of love and intimacy that are against the shari`ah, and singing that is accompanied by haram music. Showing all of these things is haram and so is looking at them.

Showing women dressed and undressed? Easier to say, no women. Perhaps "Master and Commander", that's all men on a British Navy ship. But then, there's a suspicion of "Rum and Sodomy", we'll have to give that a miss as well. So what does that leave? Pretty well nothing. Apart, obviously, from this spectacular-in-the-making involving two Saudi Kings, that we are all besides ourselves with impatience to see. But cartoons should be OK, shouldn't they? Let's look at some famous ones.

Bugs Bunny: Clean animal, eats carrots, American accent but we can dub him into street-Jeddah, he should go down well.

The Simpsons: Well, Homer can be used as a negative role model for slobby boozing infidel. Trouble is, Lisa is a bit smart, and certainly more so than her brother. That will upset our cultural preconceptions. No Simpsons.

Fred Flintstone: The women know their place, stay at home, never drive. Men get to do all the fun stuff. Definitely OK.

Charlie Brown and Snoopy: Cute, but dogs are unclean, haram. Sorry.

Betty Boop: You're kidding! Look at her. Harlot! Stone her!

Top Cat: A clean animal but a bit too streetwise. Reminds us of a gang of foreign "overstayers", out in the streets selling Qurans they've just stolen from the local mosque. Sorry.

Mickey Mouse: Cute, innocent, dumb. OK. But no Minny.

Popeye: Tobacco addiction. Unveiled girlfriend. Sorry.

Scooby-Doo. We believe in Jinns (spirits), but can't have an unclean dog chasing them away, they'll only come back ten-fold.

Winnie the Pooh: If you don't know the answer already, you haven't been paying attention.

Yogi Bear: In principle, OK. Problem is, he steals. So he's going to get one hand and the opposite foot amputated. Not that that will upset the kids, they see amputations all the time. It's just that a wobbly bear isn't funny any more.

Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner: Road Runner drives like the typical Saudi Dad, especially in the city. He'll be a real hero. Definitely.

Superman: Yes. Just change the "S" to an Arabic "Siin" and have him speak Arabic with a Riyadh accent.

Wonder Woman: What do you think?

Porky Pig: Ditto

Two of my favorites:

Wallace and Grommit: Silly, quirky British humor. Sadly, one of them is unclean.

Chicken Run: Kids will love the tale. So will the Imams, until they realize it's a story of plucky resourceful hens who escape a life of drudgery continually giving birth, and escape over the wall to a life of freedom. Then they'll ban it.

However, this one is bound to be OK. It's the favorite of King Abdullah and Prince Naif. It's the impression they always do together when they've got a couple of 6-packs and a home delivery Chinese.

Here they are watching Barbara Walters doing some TV program.

Naif: "Call now for live, one on one conversations...."
"Share your intimate thoughts"
"Dollar ninety-five a minute"
"must be 18 or older"
Abdullah: "This Chick's name is..Baba Wawa"
Naif: "Yeah - that's Japanese for 'butt'"
Abdullah: "Hey Naif - if we had a dollar ninety-five we could call up and share our intimate thoughts"
Naif: "Yeah - we could tell her she sucks"
"Hrr, hrr, hrr."

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