Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Riyadh authorities have censored the Arabic version of the August issue of National Geographic, which featured a cover photo of Pope Francis. Although officially there has been no explanation of the ban, the leaders of the Islamic country are reportedly "offended" by the of the head of the Catholic Church presence in the prestigious journal.
In a brief Twitter message, the leaders of the Arabic version of National Geographic spoke of a "banned" edition for "cultural" reasons without providing further details.
According to reports from the site foreignpolicy.com, director Alsaad Omar al-Menhaly apologized to readers for the non-distribution of the August edition, due to the fact that the magazine "did not receive entry permission [into the country] for cultural reasons ".
It would appear that the headline that speaks of Pope Francis’ "silent revolution" has deeply angered the Saudi regime, ever fearful of riots and protests. For the religious authorities, the concept of a religion that is "fluid" and open to "change" and modernity (which is what the Argentine Pope is doing for the Catholic Church according to the magazine) is exactly what they are opposed to, maintaining a "pure" and unchangeable version of Islam.
Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, which imposes the "death penalty" in cases of "murder, rape, drug trafficking and sorcery." In the ultra-conservative Sunni Wahhabi kingdom, women are forbidden to drive and must always be accompanied by a man with whom they have close ties of kinship.
Moreover, these days, the Pope continues to promote a policy of welcome and support for refugees fleeing from the wars in the Middle East, particularly the Syrians (mostly Muslims), opening the doors of the Vatican and inviting priests to do the same in parishes; compared to a Saudi Arabia that has never accepted any refugees in four years of conflict, and who have effectively sealed their borders.