In a bizarre ruling baffling al-Jazeera, the Saudi religious police has banned the sale of dogs and cats to half the 'emulation of the infidels'.
Saudi'sreligious police, the Muttawa, have been instructed the prevent the sale of cats and dogs in order to prevent the spread of Western ideas into the highly Islamic country, Saudi media reported on Friday...
The Muttawa are normally tasked with forcing women to cover themselves, ensuring men attend mosque prayers and enforcing other Islamic obligations.
Banning the sale of dogs may surprise few in the desert kingdom, since conservative Muslims despise dogs as ritually unclean. But the cat ban has baffled many. Islamic traditions say that the Muhammad, Islam's founder, loved cats - even in one instance letting a cat drink from his ablutions water before he washed himself for prayers.
For religious conservatives, however, the practice is a dangerous immitation of non-Islamic cultures, just like eating fast food, wearing shorts and jeans, or listening to pop music...
Saudi religious leaders say all these practices should be resisted because they undermine traditions and distract people from their religious duties.
"One bad habit spreading among our youths is the acquisition of dogs and showing them off in the streets and malls," wrote Aleetha al-Jihani in a letter to al-Madina newspaper.
"There's no doubt that such a matter makes one shudder."
Perhaps their government is focusing on the wrong problem?
The ban has distressed cat and dog lovers. Some have wondered why the religious police are focusing on this issue when the country has far more important challenges to deal with, such as terrorism and unemployment.
We can find common ground!