First Published: 2017-09-26

Saudi official axed over king's image with Yoda
Schoolbook accidentally included doctored photograph of former ruler Faisal sitting next to Star Wars icon Yoda.
Middle East Online

Idolatry is considered a sin in Islam.

RIYADH - A Saudi education official has been sacked over a schoolbook that accidentally included a doctored photograph of a former ruler sitting next to a "Star Wars" character, triggering online ridicule.

The black-and-white image shows King Faisal, Saudi Arabia's third monarch, signing the United Nations Charter in 1945, with the diminutive Jedi master Yoda perched next to him.

Saudi Arabia scrambled last week to withdraw the textbook.

The government has sacked Mohammad Bin Atiyah al-Harithi, the deputy education minister for curricula, saying that new versions of the textbook are being printed after the "inadvertant error".

"Education Minister Ahmed al-Eissa to terminate the mandate of ... Harithi and all those responsible for reviewing and approving textbooks," the education ministry said in a statement Monday.

The photo was a creation of 26-year-old Saudi artist Abdullah al-Shehri, who has gained renown for mixing pop culture icons into historic photographs.

Shehri said he was surprised to see his photograph end up in the school textbook.

He told the New York Times that he paired King Faisal and Yoda as they were both intelligent and because Yoda's green skin and lightsaber match the green of the Saudi flag.

He stressed he had meant no offence to the king, seen widely as the architect of Saudi Arabia's modernisation.

The error prompted light-hearted banter on social media.

One Saudi schoolteacher jested that this error symbolised "payback" after the education ministry introduced an extra hour of classes in schools earlier this year.

"Remember when Yoda signed the United Nations charter back in 1945 with Faisal of Saudi, @starwars?

"Saudi Ministry of Education does!" one Twitter user said.


Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Iraqis flock to flea market for relics of bygone era

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control

Egypt tries to contain Sudan but challenges, suspicions remain

US defence secretary presses Oman on Iran weapons smuggling

Syrian regime retakes two towns from Ghouta rebels

Hamas shutters mobile firm after Gaza attack on PM

Israel punishes family members of West Bank attacker

Syria opposition says UN 'failed to prevent' Assad 'crimes'

UK tries to soothe Egyptian anger over mob attack death

Hundreds of thousands flee in dual Syria assaults

Turkish Cypriots vow to stand firm in gas dispute

Intensifying assaults in Syria spark dual evacuations

Tearful reunions, uncertain fates for Syrians fleeing Ghouta

Iran deal signatories meet as Trump deadline looms

Thirty years on, Kurds remember Halabja massacre

Air India says will fly over Saudi airspace to Tel Aviv

UN chief calls for end to Lebanese 'meddling' in Syria