After a fierce winter storm blanketed much of the Middle East—including northern Saudi Arabia—with snow last week, a prominent Saudi cleric issued a ruling banning people from making snowmen, calling them un-Islamic. Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid said "it is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun" because creating an image of a human being is sinful, Reuters reports. "God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings, and so on," the cleric said.
The ruling sparked a heated debate in social media, Gulf News reports. One possibly tongue-in-cheek commentator agreed with the cleric, saying building snowmen is "imitating the infidels, it promotes lustiness and eroticism." Others thought the ruling was too strict even by Saudi standards. "We have snow for fleeting days, maybe even hours, and there is always someone who wants to rob us of the joy and the fun," one blogger posted. "It seems that the only thing left for us is to sit down and drink coffee." As for how often the country sees snow, Reuters noted the "upland areas of Tabuk province" that sit near Jordan are experiencing their third consecutive year of it. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)