A senior official in the ministry of education in Saudi Arabia was fired over a mistakenly altered image of the King of Saudi Arabia sitting next to Star War’s famous character Master Yoda. It has drawn attention from the public, some making fun of it and some criticizing the error of the education ministry.
The image was a revision made by a 26-year old Saudi artist, Abdullah al-Sheri, going by the nickname Shaweesh.
Background of the controversial image
The original image is from the signing of “The Charter of the United Nations” in 1945. It shows a young Faisal bin Abdulaziz-Al, a young prince once who then became the King of Saudi Arabia for 11 years.
It was a part of a collection of photo archives by known historical events being altered to include famous Hollywood icons. The artist was obsessed with incorporating American pop culture to major historic events. He had never thought of that his work will get published on actual history books, mistakenly of course.
The artist explained that he saw Yoda’s character in former Saudi King Faisal bin Abdulaziz-Al being “wise, strong, and calm at all times”, which is why he came up with the context of the edited image. There was no intention of mocking the King and the artist apologized if it created a major scene due to the misprint.
Undersecretary for Education and supervisors dismissed
After the incident, the Education Minister of Saudi Arabia issued an apology for the unfortunate mistake and ordered the recall of all published versions of the said textbook.
Undersecretary for educational curriculums and programs, Mohammed bin Attia al-Harthi, along with his senior supervisors in charge of the textbooks’ review were terminated as an aftermath of the incident along with other errors the minister didn’t disclose furthermore.
History textbooks are important tools in educating our young. A mistake like this one is not acceptable on the scale of the effect it did. Now, we have to recall all published copies and reprint another set of textbooks to replace the recalled ones.
It will take additional labor and a new budget for reproduction. I hope this serves as a lesson to us. We hope that no similar incident will happen in the future.
The education of Ministry deeply apologizes for this unfortunate misfit and will continue to serve the education system in the best way we can.