An influential Saudi cleric says taking selfies with cats or other animals is “prohibited” unless completely necessary.
Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, was told about the trend among Saudis who “want to be like Westerners,” during an April 17 televised appearance that was posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute monitoring group.
Al-Fazwan replied: “What?! What do you mean pictures with cats? Taking pictures is prohibited. The cats don’t matter here. Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity. Not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything.”
Taking pictures with pets is not the only Western habit to face scrutiny in the country where an ultraconservative strain of Islam, Wahhabism, is practiced.
Earlier this year, the Saudi grand mufti said the game of chess was forbidden because it encourages gambling. The Pokemon card game was also banned because the cards were said to have crosses and the Jewish Star of David on them, Newsweek reported.
According to The Washington Post, the sheikh’s view on cat selfies reflects a view by some hardliners in Saudi Arabia who want a total ban on photography because it is in conflict with Islam’s prohibition on depicting human or animal images.
However, the Post reports, the grand mufti allows himself to be photographed, so it’s unclear how much influence Al-Fawzan’s prohibition will have.
One lingering question remains: When is it ever completely necessary to take a selfie with a cat?