Raiding the Rainbow

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Saudi authorities seized a number of rainbow-colored toys and clothes from shops in the capital this week, the latest effort by the kingdom to crack down on homosexuality, the Middle East Eye reported.

State media showed commerce ministry officials removing rainbow-colored items, including bows, skirts and pencil cases, most of them manufactured for young children.

Officials said the colors send a “poisoned message” to children, adding that the seized objects “contradict the Islamic faith and public morals and promote homosexual colors targeting the younger generation.”

The raids are part of the latest crackdown by Saudi Arabia against objects or depictions of the LGBTQ+ community: In April, the kingdom banned the sequel to the superhero movie, “Doctor Strange,” over the inclusion of an LGBTQ+ character.

In 2016, authorities arrested a Saudi doctor for flying a rainbow pride flag above his home. The detained man said he was unaware of what the flag symbolized and bought it because his children found the colors “pretty”.

Meanwhile, Saudi officials have also targeted activists: In 2020, a court sentenced Yemeni blogger Mohamed al-Bokari to 10 months in prison and deportation over an online video supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

The recent crackdown comes as US President Joe Biden plans his first visit to the oil-rich nation in an effort to reduce gasoline prices for consumers and confront Iran’s nuclear weapons program, according to Fox News.

However, critics of the monarchy have encouraged Biden to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its participation in terrorism and human rights violations, while others have expressed surprise at his policy shift.

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