King Faisal’s image with ‘Star Wars’ icon appears on Saudi schoolbook

  • Education official axed over ‘inadvertent error’
  • Yoda sits next to former ruler in doctored image
  • The photo was a creation of Saudi artist Abdullah al-Shehri

RIYADH – The government in Saudi Arabia has sacked an education official after a doctored image of King Faisal with Star Wars icon Yoda made its way into a Saudi textbook, triggering online ridicule.

The black-and-white image shows King Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s third monarch, signing the United Nations Charter in 1945, with the diminutive Jedi master Yoda perched next to him.

Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa apologized for the “inadvertent error” on Twitter, a sign of the power of viral online embarrassment in this highly-wired society. He said the ministry would print a corrected copy of the book and had formed a committee to determine the source of the mistake.

This week, he replaced Mohammad Bin Atiyah al-Harithi, ministry undersecretary for curriculum and education programs, according to Saudi-owned television channel Al Arabiya. He also ordered a review of textbooks by government-owned company Tatweer.

The photo was a creation of 26-year-old Saudi artist Abdullah al-Shehri, who has gained renown for mixing pop culture icons into historic photographs.

Shehri said he was surprised to see his photograph end up in the school textbook.

He told the New York Times that he paired King Faisal and Yoda as they were both intelligent and because Yoda’s green skin and lightsaber match the green of the Saudi flag.

He stressed he had meant no offence to the king, seen widely as the architect of Saudi Arabia’s modernisation.