Wednesday April 8, 2020
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Saudi Cleric: Selfies with Cats ‘Prohibited’ in Saudi Arabia

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Selfie with a cat. Image source Wikimedia commons

An influential Saudi cleric says taking selfies with cats or other animals is “prohibited” unless completely necessary.

Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, was told about the trend among Saudis who “want to be like Westerners,” during an April 17 televised appearance that was posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute monitoring group.

Al-Fazwan replied: “What?! What do you mean pictures with cats? Taking pictures is prohibited. The cats don’t matter here. Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity. Not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything.”

Taking pictures with pets is not the only Western habit to face scrutiny in the country where an ultraconservative strain of Islam, Wahhabism, is practiced.

Earlier this year, the Saudi grand mufti said the game of chess was forbidden because it encourages gambling. The Pokemon card game was also banned because the cards were said to have crosses and the Jewish Star of David on them,Newsweek reported.

According to The Washington Post, the sheikh’s view on cat selfies reflects a view by some hardliners in Saudi Arabia who want a total ban on photography because it is in conflict with Islam’s prohibition on depicting human or animal images.

However, the Post reports, the grand mufti allows himself to be photographed, so it’s unclear how much influence Al-Fawzan’s prohibition will have.

One lingering question remains: When is it ever completely necessary to take a selfie with a cat?

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Know About the Concern Over Fluctuating Oil Prices due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Global Stock Markets Plummet on Oil Price Drop, Coronavirus Fears

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Oil prices
Stock markets plummeted across the world, plunging on dual concerns over oil prices and the economic effects of the coronavirus. Pixabay

By Ken Bredemeier

Stock markets plummeted across the world Monday, plunging on dual concerns over oil prices and the economic effects of the coronavirus that has spread to more than 100 countries. This is a breaking news.

Key exchanges in New York fell more than 7% Monday, following a 5% drop in some Asian markets, while European markets closed down about 8%.

The widely watched Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 key U.S. stocks closed down more than 2,000 points Monday for a loss of 7.9% while the S&P 500 fell 7.6%.

The steep decline at the New York Stock Exchange triggered an automatic 15-minute halt in trading to temporarily limit losses to 7%, a provision last employed in December 2008 in the depths of the recession.

Investors were spooked by plunging oil prices, with Brent crude, the world benchmark, falling more than 24% to $34.36 a barrel, on top of the coronavirus fears sweeping the globe. U.S. oil prices for West Texas Intermediate, a Texas light sweet crude, dropped nearly 25% to $31.13 a barrel.

The world prices of oil fell on fears that Saudi Arabia, launching a price war with one-time ally Russia, would flood the world market with oil in a bid to regain market share.

The plunge in oil prices was the worst since the Gulf War in 1991. Strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. warned oil prices could fall into the $20s.

Oil prices
U.S. oil prices for West Texas Intermediate, a Texas light sweet crude, dropped nearly 25% to $31.13 a barrel. Pixabay

Volatility has consumed markets around the world amid the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 108,000 people and killed more than 3,800 people. At least 10 billion shares have traded on U.S. exchanges each day for two weeks.

U.S. stocks are now down 19% from a peak they reached last month.

U.S. President Donald Trump offered his rosy assessment of the stock market plunge and dropping oil prices, saying on Twitter, “Good for the consumer, gasoline prices coming down!”

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More broadly, he laid the blame for falling stock prices: “Saudi Arabia and Russia are arguing over the price and flow of oil. That, and the Fake News, is the reason for the market drop!” (VOA)