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A prominent Saudi cleric has banned people from taking pictures whilst posing with cats claiming the practice is "too Western". Sheikh Saleh Bin Fawzan Al-Fazwan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars and a member of the Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas in the country, told Saudis of his beliefs in a TV broadcast.

Al-Fazwan told the nation that having a selfie with a cat, dogs or any other animals is not allowed in the ultra-conservative mainly Sunni Muslim country. According to Sheikh Saleh, the ban is in place to stop people from taking part in the "trend to be more Western".

And last year, an Indonesian Muslim cleric issued a fatwa against taking selfies. Felix Siauw, a locally well-known author and speaker poured scorn on "shameless" women who post their selfies and questioned their "purity".

Al-Fazwan made international news in 2014 when he issued a fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets live on TV. Fawzan said that the value and quantity of the food sold should be pre-determined before food is purchased.

He said in the broadcast, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, that "a new trend of taking pictures with cats has been spreading among people who want to be like Westerners", reported Newsweek.

He 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."

Also banned in the state is chess which is said to "encourage gambling" as well as the popular child's game Pokemon is banned because, according to the powerful clerics, they promote other religions because the Star of David is printed on the cards.

The form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia is known as Wahhabism and clerics have also banned camera phones, socialising with other genders and female drivers. But the credibility of al-Fazwan's fatwa is debatable as the Saudi Council of Muftis is the only religious council with the authority to issue a fatwa in the country.

Grumpy cat
Cat pictures have been banned in Saudi Arabia Getty