Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested two men for hosting a dog pageant in the port city of Jeddah.
The men spread word of the contest on social media using the hashtag “most beautiful dog in Jeddah” urging Saudi pet owners to enter their dogs. The best 10 would be recognized, and the top three would receive prizes.
The awards ceremony was scheduled for Wednesday, to coincide with the Eid festival, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, but when news of the event went viral, Saudi authorities stepped in and arrested the organizers.
The Jeddah municipality posted a message to its social media pages saying the contest had been cancelled, and the organizers would face legal action and consequences.
Ironically, authorities then used the original ‘most beautiful dog’ hashtag to notify people that the event was cancelled, prompting one user to note the “stupidity and ignorance” of fighting over a dog pageant.
Saudi Arabia forbids the ownership of dogs as pets, viewing the animal as ‘unclean’ and a product of ‘decadent Western culture.’ Similarly, most Muslim scholars view dogs as ritually ‘impure.’
In some regions of the country, the ‘Mutaween’ or morality police usually tasked with ensuring women adhere to the strict Saudi dress code and keep unrelated men and women separated in public also keep watch and clamp down on pet-dog owners.
In 2008, Riyadh’s governor banned the sale of cats and dogs in an effort to keep men and women apart, after authorities claimed flirtatious young men were using their pets as magnets to lure girls in public places such as malls.
Earlier this month The Foreign Desk reported a Saudi crackdown on Saudi men wearing ‘un-Islamic’ clothes. As many as 50 men were arrested for ‘fashion violations’ such as wearing ripped jeans, Crocs sandals, shorts, necklaces and having Western hair styles.