19 April 2017

Battle over crosses in Saudi Arabia

A decorative concrete structure which had stood for more than 25 years at the entrance to a government building in the Saudi city of Buraydah was abruptly demolished at the weekend because of its alleged connection with Christianity, according to local media.

The structure, which incorporated a series of crosses, was bulldozed "in response to claims submitted by citizens to the competent authorities", the website newsqassim.com reported.

Criticising the decision in the Saudi newspaper al-Hayat, Aqal al-Aqal likened it to actions by the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He pointed out that shapes resembling crosses are a fact of everyday life and that nobody demands the closure of crossroads or removal of the cruciate ligaments from people's bodies.

An interesting question, though, is why "citizens" of Buraydah suddenly started objecting to the structure after apparently ignoring it for a quarter of a century. Aqal al-Aqal suggests it's a backlash against "the beginning of real openness in the arts" in Saudi Arabia. [al-bab.com] Read more