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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Saudi Arabia bans teddy bears, female dolls and Buddha statues

Interior minister trying to appease "extremists"
The Guardian: Saudi Arabia has banned imports of female dolls and teddy bears, and shopkeepers have been given three months to dispose of any stock.

The ban also applies to non-Islamic religious symbols, such as crosses and statues of the Buddha. It was imposed by Prince Nayef, 69, the interior minister, al-Riyadh newspaper said yesterday. He is also in charge of the feared religious police and is regarded as one of the main obstacles to reform within the government.

Fashion models in the country have also been told that they must not display "shapely" figures.

"Prince Nayef is trying to appease the extremists because the followers of Wahhabi Islam believe in forbidding this sort of thing," said Ali al-Ahmad of the Washington-based Saudi Institute.

The ban could not be confirmed by Saudi officials.

One unofficial source said it might to be a new attempt to enforce a 1982 royal decree forbidding toys made in the shape of living creatures.

Ah yes, a world without teddy bears . . . without Jews, Christians or Buddhists. Even more offensive than the imposition of Islamic fundamentalism is the acquiesance of the world. One takes for granted that few will stand up for the Jews, but teddy bears? Surely, people care about innocent toys . . . or Buddhas?

Buddha statue - An Afghan militiaman sits under the 120 foot tall female Buddha statue in Bamiyan.
This female Buddha statue is located near the taller, male statue which had previously been
damaged in fighting. Afghanistan's Taliban rulers began the destruction of all statues on March 1 2001.
Photo: Zaheeruddin Abdullah, AP

The Destruction of the Statues in Bamiyan