Saudi Arabia has slapped a ban on the latest issue of the official magazine of the National Geographic Society owing to “cultural reasons.”
National Geographic’s August issue features Pope Francis on the cover and a story about his “silent revolution” at the Vatican, hoping to create a church “that is poor for the poor” within.
Though there was no official announcement from the government of Saudi Arabia, National Geographic’s regional editor-in-chief, Alsaad Omar Al Menhaly, tweeted about the ban.
The regional editor-in-chief’s tweet reads, “Dear readers in Saudi Arabia, we apologise for you not obtaining August’s magazine. According to the publishing company, the magazine was denied entry for cultural reasons. Chief Editor.”
Pope Francis’ reforms and declarations regarding climate change, abortion and the most recent one on parishes to take in refugees are being seen as the most ground-breaking reforms by any pope.
A spokesperson for the National Geographic Society told Quartz, “We are aware of the issue, but we are still currently in the information gathering phase.”
However, this is not the first time the content of the magazine has been censored in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, a line in the magazine’s March issue titled “The war on science” stated “evolution never happened”. The line was eliminated from the cover for unknown reasons.
A secular activist from Morocco Kacem El Ghazzali, who is currently serving as the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s representative at the United Nations, stated that it is fairly common for “scientific, secular and philosophical” pieces to be banned in the kingdom.
Ghazzali further added, “Thousands of blogs and websites are also banned in the country and contrary to most Arab countries, Saudi Arabia never tries to hide its intentions and recognition of censorship.”