In Qatar there is only one decent bookshop (that happens to be a Saudi chain) that has a few shelves of English books. Shopping there is hit or miss – you don’t go there to look for a title. You go there in the hope of stumbling upon something interesting.
The kids selection is not bad though. The other night we saw Disney’s “My Very First Encyclopedia with Winnie the Pooh and friends”. We grabbed it and thought it was exactly what we needed for our daughter – not only does she love Winnie the Pooh but she’s also started taking a keen interest in nature.
We flipped it open and noticed that some of the pages had been vandalised with a black marker. We figured it must have been bought and returned after some kids had got there hands on it. Further inspection made us realise that this was actually systematic. Someone had deliberately “censored” out each and every picture of Piglet from hundreds of pages in the book with a black marker (my guess is that the book got caught by Saudi Censors enroute to Doha).
From the first page to the last page. Big and small. The black marker was hogging the limelight, so to speak.
Yes, the cuddly cute pink Piglet had disappeared. First, I have no idea who would buy a book that cost about $30 that was marked up like this. Secondly, what the hell were the censors thinking!?
Now as a Muslim, I can venture why they did this. But as a Muslim, I think it is totally ridiculous.