The photoshopped image also led to a textbook recall. The artist behind the image has said he does not know how his artwork got on the cover — but he thinks the late King Faisal and Yoda shared lots of good qualities.
The force was apparently not with an education minister who was fired by the government of Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of a textbook scandal, Saudi media reported on Tuesday. The cover photo on the textbook showing the late King Faisal signing the United Nations Charter in 1945 alongside "Star Wars" character Yoda spurred the government to take action.
The textbook with the black-and-white photoshopped image on its front was recalled last week. However, its removal from circulation did not prevent Saudi authorities from booting Mohammed bin Attiyah al-Harthi from his position as deputy minister for curricula and educational programs. The officials responsible for signing off on textbooks were also dismissed.
According to an AFP report, a statement from the education ministry said that "Education Minister Ahmed al-Eissa to terminate the mandate of... Harithi and all those responsible for reviewing and approving textbooks."
Reuters reported that Al-Harithi's firing was prompted in part by errors in other textbooks and not merely due to the doctored image of the late king seated next to the little green Jedi master.
Al-Harithi reportedly rejected all the charges of error and said he would continue to remain loyal to the Kingdom.
The 26-year-old Saudi artist behind the photoshopped image said he had no idea how his photo ended up on the cover of the textbook. Abdullah al-Shehri created the photo in order to bring young people closer to historic events.
He told the New York Times that he had been inspired by a photo of then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat meeting Mickey Mouse while on a trip to Disneyland.
And why — among all the possibilities for fictional film characters — did Shehri choose Yoda?
"I found that Yoda was the closest character to the king," the artist told the American paper, highlighting the wisdom and strength he thought were shared by both the late King and the Jedi master. "And also Yoda and his light saber – "it's all green," Shehri added, the same color as the Saudi flag.
cb/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)