Saudi Education Officials Fired for Publishing Textbook With Photo of King Faisal Next to Yoda

King Faisal in 1941. Credit: Library of Congress via Wikipedia
King Faisal in 1941. Credit: Library of Congress via Wikipedia

Saudi Arabia’s under-secretary for educational curricula and programs has found himself sacked after an official social studies textbook ran with a photo of King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the country’s leader from 1964 to 1975, seated next to none other than Jedi master Yoda.

According to Arab News, Minister of Education Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa announced on Tuesday he had fired Mohammed bin Attia Al-Harthi over the incident, which involved a doctored version of an “iconic” photo of Faisal signing the UN charter in 1945. The artwork was originally created by artist Abdullah Al Shehri, who goes by the moniker Shaweesh and told the New York Times he had nothing to do with its inclusion in the textbook.

As can be seen below, it’s a pretty big mistake, as Yoda takes up almost as much real estate in the artwork as the late king himself.


“Someone should have checked the image before printing,” Shaweesh told the BBC. According to the Times, Shaweesh said his intent was to pair the late king—who is a popular Saudi historical figure—with someone who matched his wisdom and charisma.

“I meant no offense to the king at all,” he added.

The minister of education tweeted an apology promising an investigation into the incident.


According to the Washington Post, state-linked media said this was just the latest screw-up from Harthi, and a number of supervisors involved in the production of the textbook are being terminated as well. Given Saudi Arabia’s notorious human rights record and generally ultra-conservative approach to enforcement of religious law, this might be a light punishment, all things considered.


[Ars Technica]

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post

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Saudi Arabia is a crazy country, but I don’t understand why you think firing him was unreasonable.

This was an educational text book, and someone included a photo like this. If this happened anywhere the people responsible would be fired (government or private employees). Imagine if your kids go to school and see Washington’s photo signing the constitution with Yoda beside him.