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Well, it looks as though the witch hunt has begun. Only yesterday I wrote about the potential for the situation in Saudi Arabia to go from bad to worse for tattooed people. As it turns out, yesterday in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh, Colombian soccer player Juan Pablo Pino was arrested for having visible religious tattoos in a local mall. Apparently, Pino has numerous religious tattoos, but one of his tattoos in particular is a shoulder tattoo of Jesus of Nazareth. The Saudi religious police were contacted after enraged shopping mall customers noticed Pino’s visible tattoos on Monday.
‘Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries in the Muslim world, and according to one of the country’s most respected clerics, Nayimi Sheik Mohammed, Saudi law prohibits tattoos, no matter what their form, and every player has to abide with these rules.
The cleric went on to stress the importance of respecting the status of “Sharia” (Islamic law) and that the tattoos must be covered at all times.
Pino, who plays in the Saudi league, has expressed “deep sorrow” for his actions and said he respects the laws of the country. He was released from custody when a team delegate arrived and discussed the matter with the police.’
As I (more or less) basically said yesterday, this is all a whole big pile of bullshit. It’s downright primitive to arrest someone for having tattoos and even more primitive (if that’s even possible) to arrest someone for having tattoos that imply a belief different to your own. I mean, seriously – how intolerant can you get? An added insult to injury is the fact that Pino had to “express deep” sorrow for essentially doing absolutely nothing. If I were Pino, I would be on the first plane out of that place. I’m not a religious person, but living in a society that prevents people from believing what they wish to believe is hardly living, in my opinion. And not that there is any great influx of tourism to Saudi Arabia, but I want to encourage any tattooed people who might be considering a visit to Saudi Arabia at some point in the future not to go until things there change. I know that this incident has completely changed my mind about visiting the country. I’d rather spend my tourist dollars in a place where people are treated like people.