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Saudi Arabia takes on Islamic State with cartoon competition Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Saudi Arabia takes on Islamic State with cartoon competition

Saudi Arabia has witnessed a spate of attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group [TNA]

Date of publication: 27 May, 2016

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Saudi Arabia, whose citizens make up the second largest number of the Islamic State group's foreign fighters, has launched a cartoon drawing competition to take on 'religious extremism'.
Police in Saudi Arabia have come up with a novel way of tackling extremism in the deeply religious oil-rich kingdom: a cartoon drawing contest.

Saudi Arabia's ministry of interior kicked off the competition this week titled Cartoons Against Extremist Ideology and is accepting submissions from Saudi hobbyists and professional artists.

The artist with the best drawing lampooning religious extremism will go home with a sweet $4,000 in prize money – the runner-up and third place winner will also receive cash prizes.

"The cartoon must convey the dangers of extremist ideology," police spokesman Mohammad al-Maroul told state media.

"The top 30 pieces of artwork will be published in local newspapers and all the submissions will be put up on display in an exhibition in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam," Maroul added.

The contest comes as Saudi Arabia witnesses a spate of attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group [IS], against members of the minority Shia community and security forces.

      Anti-Israeli cartoon exhibition in Tehran [Getty]

But Saudis make up the second largest nationality among "foreign terrorist fighters" part of the Islamic State group, according to a report by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force last year .

Furthermore, 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington were proven to be Saudi nationals.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of IS, has called Saudi Arabia's Sunni ruling family "apostate tyrants" and urged Saudis to rise up against them.

"Jihadist ideology and political grievances are the leading reason young Saudi radicals join IS, rather than poverty or unemployment," Saudi political analyst Jamal Khashoggi previously told The New Arab.

This month Saudi Arabia's regional rival, Iran, opened a cartoon drawing exhibition, focusing on drawings deriding Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his government's Middle East policies.

The exhibition, which totalled 150 entries from 50 countries, was launched on the eve of the Palestinian commemoration of the "Nakba", which means catastrophe in Arabic, marking the 1948 creation of Israel.

Several cartoons on display poked fun at Netanyahu, with one depicting him as a member of IS and holding a sabre in his hand.

If you want to take part in the Cartoons Against Extremist Ideology contest, email your artwork to

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