Most non-Muslims are aware of the rule in Saudi Arabia prohibiting women from driving a car – with the exception of doing so in the desert or in a private, enclosed family compound – to limit their ability to leave the house or subjecting them to the need to uncover their face in public.

Under that Middle Eastern country’s strict interpretation of Islam, many things considered normal parts of every day life are outlawed to protect the faith from Western influence.

This may seem unfathomable in the non-Muslim world, but most people attribute it to custom and dismiss it as something that will eventually bow to changes in society with time.

However, there are other prohibitions in the Saudi kingdom that seem random to the point of being ridiculous.

For instance, it is strictly forbidden to sell roses or anything that is heart-shaped on Valentine’s Day, and wearing a piece of red clothing, even a scarf, on that day is punishable by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

Recently, the highest Saudi religious official banned chess because it encourages competition, “hatred” between the players, and gambling.

Pokemon is also banned as it is thought it promotes Christianity and Judaism, because the symbols of those faiths are shown on the cards used in the games.

But it is hard to imagine the purpose behind the newest ban – having one’s photograph taken with… cats.

When informed on a television program about a new fad of taking pictures with pet cats, Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, was stunned.

The sheikh exclaimed, “What! What do you mean pictures with cats? Taking pictures is prohibited. Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity. Not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything.”

Some Muslims go so far as to ban all photographs, but apparently this ruling is a more lenient one that bans only photos with Fluffy the Feline.

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