January 16, 2007

Banning the Letter X

We've previously discussed the fact that in Turkey the use of the letters Q, W, and X is illegal since they are not found in the Turkish alphabet. It turns out that Saudi Arabia too has a problem with the letter X, for different, and even dumber, reasons. According to this article by Amr Mohammed Al-Faisal in the Arab News, his company tried to register the trademark Explorer with the Saudi government as the English counterpart to the existing Arabic trademark for a product. The Ministry of Commerce turned down his application due to the objections of the هيئه الأمر بالمعروف و النهي عن المنكر the "Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice," popularly known as the "religious police", in Arabic, the mutawwa'in. Why? Because the letter X resembles the cross, the symbol of a popular non-Islamic religion.

I encountered this story today in this article on Dhimmi Watch a web site devoted to criticism of Islamism and especially of non-Muslims who in its opinion submit to being dhimmis, the subordinate status assigned to non-Muslims in Muslim countries under Muslim law. Dhimmi Watch picked this up from NewsMax, which seems to be a right-wing news site. NewsMax doesn't cite its source, but I found it easily enough. The item is legitimate (though of course I can't vouch for the veracity of the original writer), but you may already have noticed, if you read the linked article, that it appeared on November 2nd, 2003, over three years ago. That doesn't make the Commission's position any less bizarre but it is curious that a news site would reproduce a three year old news item as if it were current.

P.S.: For those readers who have written me recently and haven't had a response, I've had a bad cold, together with a grant application deadline and some other pressing matters, so I'm behind. I'll get to you.

Posted by Bill Poser at January 16, 2007 01:11 AM