Censorship in Saudi Arabia

Magazine Cover

Bridal Dress Accessorized

With the Muttawa’s recent ban on the sale of dogs and cats as these can be used as bait to lure women, one may question the depth of censorship, which will take place in the Kingdom. Mail and packages will be routinely inspected for Islamic content. For example, if one subscribes to Western magazines such as People or Vanity Fair these magazines usually feature attractive women heavily made up and oftentimes scantily dressed. But chances are, unless these magazines were smuggled in undetected in someone’s luggage or purse into the Kingdom, one will find them heavily “doctored.” By doctored, I mean that the women’s faces will be blackened out or if bare skin was showing, it would also be blackened out. Many times I have gone into grocery stores or chemists (pharmacies) in the Kingdom to find products which have faces of women on them such as hair care or make up to be blackened out. Amazing to think that someone’s job is to go around and blacken out faces of women… Another way in which censorship shows itself as well is with the state run tv or at times, Kuwaiti tv. Occasionally these stations will have a western movie. But if the western movie has language or a scene which is considered too racy or inappropriate (such as couple embracing) that will likely be darkened or cut out.

Has anyone seen Piglet

In the digital media, one finds censorship through the blockage of web sites. This is certainly a hit and miss area where whatever algorithms or key word analysis being used in not sufficient. For example, I found some of the web sites pertaining to breast cancer blocked because of the word breast. However, there are certainly work-around to the censorship….all one needs to do is purchase a satellite dish and good receiver. With the satellite, one can view whatever is desired as well as obtain satellite internet, which has no restrictions either. Again, just shows to illustrate how the Kingdom remains contrasts and contradictions.

POSTSCRIPT:  I encourage those who read this posting to visit the Clouddragon blog and read Aafke’s rebuttal to censorship in the Kingdom:  http://clouddragon.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/the-black-hand/


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