Images of bare female flesh are banned in Saudi Arabia. There's no efficient system in place for removing the offensive material, however, which means that somebody has the painstaking job of colouring all those arms, legs, midriffs and cleavages that appear on the covers of Western magazines and imported products. The latest cover-up victim: American singer Katy Perry.
American blogger "Susie of Arabia", 57, moved to Jeddah almost two years ago with her Saudi Arabian husband. She posted these images on her blog, Susie's Big Adventure, which has just been censored by the Saudi authorities.
Strict censorship is alive and well here in Saudi Arabia. The morality of the citizens is of the utmost importance, and measures are in place to ensure that people behave impeccably, although despite all the enforcement efforts, sometimes people fall short.
Pork in any form is prohibited, and so is pornography. Photos of women in books, magazines and product packaging are routinely censored with black markers if any skin is showing, and sometimes pages are just ripped right out. Sometimes the black marker is just scribbled across the woman's image, like in the photo below of a package for a maternity support belt.
Other times, the censor is much more careful about colouring in the parts of the woman's body that are objectionable.
The other night I went to a music shop to purchase a few CDs for my son, Adam. One of the CDs I got is called “One of the Boys”, by a female artist named Katy Perry.
When he opened up the CD, we were both astonished. I hadn't noticed when I bought it, but the tightly sealed plastic-wrap packaging had been removed and had been replaced with a clear plastic resealable envelope-type wrapper.
So what it all boils down to is that the Saudi government is actually paying religious police members of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice to remove the plastic wrap from these CDs, open up the CD cases, remove the front and back inserts and carefully and painstakingly colour in with a marker any photos baring exposed female flesh that is deemed objectionable. What supreme sacrifices these noble men make for the sake of their fellow Saudi man!
(The CPVP is a government agency that employs religious police, called Muttawa, to make sure that citizens adhere strictly to the teachings of Islam, especially those pertaining to dress, socialization, morality and prayer. The commission comprises approximately 10,000 Muttawa and has nearly 500 centres within the country.)