People looking at the IKEA catalogue in Saudi Arabia thought that there seemed something was missing: women. IKEA decided to airbrush out every picture of women in the catalogue while leaving men and children. In one example of the deletion the father, daughter and son are still shown in a bathroom scene but the mother has been removed. The ultimate symbol of women being invisible in the Kingdom.
The decision to make women vanished to satisfy Saudi sensibilities has caused an understandable ruckus in Sweden. The company expressed “regret” over the incident and said that “excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA Group values.”
Notably, IKEA is not alone. Starbucks in Saudi Arabia do not even show its classic symbol of a woman with flowing hair. It appears that even that fairly abstract image was too much for males in the Kingdom. One glimpse at the icon would have sent men insane with uncontrollable impulses in buying a latte.
When Starbucks used its standard logo in Egypt, it was boycotted not because of the image of a woman but because the woman was claimed to be Esther, a Jewish biblical figure. The cleric warned followers:
“The girl in the Starbucks logo is Queen Esther. Do you know who Queen Esther was and what the crown on her head means? This is the crown of the Persian kingdom. This queen is the queen of the Jews. She is mentioned in the Torah, in the Book of Esther. The girl you see is Esther, the queen of the Jews in Persia.”
Not that it matters to such religious extremists but the image is actually taken from a 15th-century Norse woodcut. By the way, in case you are grumbling about extremists Muslims, keep in mind Christian groups in the United States boycotted the original image as too exhibitionist. Some pastors charged Starbucks as secretly pushing an occult image while others say the image shows the company should be called “Slutbucks.” In a more recent controversy, pastors are calling for a boycott over the company’s pro-same-sex marriage stand. As a regular Starbucks consumer, the only thing I find offensive is paying this much for a cup of coffee.
Source: Wall Street Journal