Disney's Piglet banned in Middle East!
In Qatar there is only one decent bookshop (that happens to be a Saudi chain) that has a few shelves of English books. Shopping there is hit or miss - you don't go there to look for a title. You go there in the hope of stumbling upon something interesting.
The kids selection is not bad though. The other night we saw Disney's "My Very First Encyclopedia with Winnie the Pooh and friends". We grabbed it and thought it was exactly what we needed for our daughter - not only does she love Winnie the Pooh but she's also started taking a keen interest in nature.
Piglet Censored in Middle East : Hello Kids!
We flipped it open and noticed that some of the pages had been vandalised with a black marker. We figured it must have been bought and returned after some kids had got there hands on it. Further inspection made us realise that this was actually systematic. Someone had deliberately "censored" out each and every picture of Piglet from hundreds of pages in the book with a black marker (my guess is that the book got caught by Saudi Censors enroute to Doha).
Piglet Censored in Middle East : Piglet Erased
From the first page to the last page. Big and small. The black marker was hogging the limelight, so to speak.
Yes, the cuddly cute pink Piglet had disappeared. First, I have no idea who would buy a book that cost about $30 that was marked up like this. Secondly, what the hell were the censors thinking!?
Now as a Muslim, I can venture why they did this. But as a Muslim, I think it is totally ridiculous.
As in Judaism, there are laws governing what can and cannot be eaten. Muslims are forbidden from eating pork, as pigs are believed to be unclean. Now the point of this post isn't to discuss this. The point is, what is wrong with a picture of Piglet in a kids book? I think absolutely nothing!
This whole incident reminded me of a discussion with a friend from South Africa a few years ago. He was explaining kindness and mercy in Islam. He said that a even a pig, a creature which is seen as "despised" by Muslims, is a creature of God and should thus be treated with kindness and mercy. So while we should not eat it, that doesn't meant that Muslims are interested in torturing or trying to exterminate them... even if only with a brand new 3-inch black marker. If a pig was injured, it would be a Muslims duty to assist it.
So, back to Piglet being marked out of a book. I'm not sure what on earth the censors were trying to achieve. Maybe they just haven't been to a farm and seen actual real pigs. Are they trying to dream away the existence of pigs by hiding their existence of pigs?
Piglet Censored in Middle East : Can you find Piglet?
The whole thing becomes totally ridiculous when you realise that you can go downstairs in the same store and buy a range of different Winnie the Pooh DVD movies. In them you can see Piglet in all his 'oinking glory!
Now I've got a feeling that this isn't the result of Qatari censors. They are pretty good when it comes to these sorts of things (they did abolish the "Ministry of Information" a decade ago). I have a feeling that this book came via Saudi Arabia, since the book chain is a Saudi franchise. Of course, such craziness can be expected from the Saudi censors.
Which brings us to the question of censorship in the first place. We often here the big stories about journalists being arrested or killed.
It isn't often that we here about the little things like poor Piglet.
The fact of the matter is, Piglet is a fictional character. If you are really worried about your kids being exposed to subversive activities,you should probably be more concerned with the fact that the damn animals talk!
Piglet Censored in Middle East : Winnie-The-Pooh
In a way though, the whole thing kind of makes sense in this part of the world. I mean, most Arab countries still try to wish Israel didn't exist by not saying it (they say "Palestine 1948") or by marking it off the maps!
Now I guess it is off to Amazon.com to buy the book!
Note : A couple of people have asked if they could use the picture on their own blogs - please feel free as long as you provide a link back here!
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