'Inappropriate' Snow White banned in Qatar

'Inappropriate' Snow White banned in Qatar
4 min read
21 Jan, 2016
A Qatari school has removed a copy of Snow White from its library after a complaint it was culturally inappropriate and contained 'illustrations and phrases that have sexual innuendoes'.
The Penguin edition of the classic tale apparently contained 'culturally inappropriate' images [Getty]
A copy of a children's fairy tale has been banned from a private school in Qatar after a parent complained about "indecent images" in the beloved book.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was reportedly removed from the library at SEK International School at the orders of Qatar's Supreme Education Council.

A parent said the Penguin edition of the 19th century tale, which was made into a 1937 Disney classic, contained culturally "inappropriate" images

Vivian Arif, head of the privately-run Spanish school located in the seaside district of Dafna in Doha, has succumbed to the parental censorship and apologised.

In a statement to Doha News, she said:

"The school took immediate action and removed the book from the library and has revised and enforced the procedures to ensure that this type of incident will not happen again.

"SEK International School Qatar is proud to be established in this country and presents its formal apologies for any offence that this unintended situation may have caused."

The school, established in the emirate two years ago, has procedures in place for staff to follow to ensure "the laws, traditions and ethics of the Qatari community" are followed, she said.

"We deeply respect the culture of Qatar, we are committed to the promotion of its values and principles, and we will keep on working so that our school is always a reference for its commitment and service to the people of Qatar," Arif added.

No further details were given of the offending images, but the cover picture shows the (unmarried) princess and prince in each other's arms. The story does, obviously, involve a young woman living with seven men.
No further details were given of the offending images, but the cover picture shows the (unmarried) princess and prince in each other's arms

In the German fairy tale, published in Europe by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, the princess is woken by the prince after eating a poisoned apple and falling into a deep sleep.

Culturally inappropriate?

Qatar considers public displays of affection such as kissing and hugging culturally inappropriate. Movies that could offend religious sensibilities, such as Noah, which depicted a prophet, are not shown. The Wolf of Wall Street was famously cut by some 50 minutes for its references to drugs and sex (though scenes of financial exploitation were deemed fine to screen).

Arabic pop music videos, meanwhile, are frequently as racy and filled with scantily clad women as any of their Western competitors.

, the Arabic daily in Qatar that first published the story, said the complainant was "flabbergasted" at the illustrations in the book, described as "inappropriate", "indecent" and "containing illustrations and phrases that have sexual innuendoes", reported Doha News.

Hamad Mohammed Al Ghali Al Marri, director of Qatar's Supreme Education Council, said the incident was "not out of the ordinary", and the school was cooperative when approached and immediately withdrew the book.

Qatari schools must follow SEC regulations as to which books and learning materials are allowed, so there is no conflict with Islamic values and Qatari norms.

The school was reportedly reminded of the need to follow these regulations.

Social media backlash

Despite the school's apology, Doha News reported that the country's social media users were still angered, with few people willing ot speak out against the ban. Some took to Twitter to voice their displeasure (translated from Arabic):

"An apology is useless. The entity responsible for supervising school syllabuses and material should be held accountable and whoever failed at their job should not go unpunished," said one user.

"This investigation should include the school, the coordinator, the academic delegate and the principal because they are all incriminated in this wrongdoing. That's if the education policy is on the right path," said another.

"This is not the first time (something like this happened) and the SEC has not done anything in the past to hold those responsible accountable. Therefore, such incidents continue to take place and uglier stuff will continue to happen," argued a third.

What do you think about banning Snow White? Are western fairy tales incompatible with Sharia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet at us: @The_NewArab