Apparently female driving isn't the only thing that's banned in Saudi Arabia. Tattoos, too, are another no-no in the ultra-conservative Middle Eastern nation -- a lesson that one man and his family have learned all too well.
Juan Pablo Pino, a 24-year-old soccer player from Columbia, was reportedly arrested in Saudi Arabia last Friday. Pino's apparent offense was walking through a mall, while wearing a sleeveless shirt that exposed his religious tattoos (at least one of which includes Jesus).
The incident allegedly occurred in Riyadh, the nation's capitol. The Saudi moral police subdued the young man, a member of the Saudi Al Nasr soccer club, after customers complained about the presence of his religious "markings." According to the Catholic News Agency, Pino was at the mall with his pregnant wife (who was taken into custody with him). Fox News has more:
Nayimi Sheik Mohammed, a Saudi cleric, told Colombia Reports that the country respects Shariah law and that tattoos must be covered at all times.
Pino later apologized for his actions and was released from custody after a team delegate discussed the matter with police.
The Catholic News Agency reports that the soccer club purportedly released a statement in which he says that he is "deeply saddened" over the incident.
Pino apparently claimed that he respects Saudi law and that he and his wife were actually shopping for clothing that would be "more respectful" of the nation's strict Islamic customs.
According to Columbia Reports, "A similar event occurred in Saudi Arabia last year when a Romanian player kissed the tattoo of a cross he had on his arm after scoring a goal..." The player, Mirel Radoi of the Al Hilal team, caused public outrage with this simple religious display.
Another story comes from Gustavo Costas, the Al Nasr club's Argentinean coach. The Catholic News Agency reports that, prior to coming to Saudi Arabia, Costas would wear a rosary and would make the sign of the cross before every game. But he apparently told Peru's El Comercio newspaper the following:
“I can’t do it. I do it before heading out to the field, in the locker room. If I sign myself, they’ll kill me or stone me."
Considering the most recent cultural clash, some are reporting that Pino's wife has requested that the family leave the country. While the Al Nasr club has purportedly been courting Pino and his wife to change their minds and stay in the region, so far there has been no change of heart.
(H/T: Fox News)