Saudi Arabia, Martha Graham accused of inspiring women to lay off their veils

Google celebrated Martha Graham’s 117th birthday with an animated doodle. Martha Graham (1894-1991) was a remarkable innovator  of the art of dance and has inspired modern dancers to this day.

The doodle displays specific dance movements by Martha Graham, but, apparently, for many saudis the doodle looked like an incentive for women to take off their veils. As this article in the Saudi gazette explains:

ABHA: Tens of thousands of Saudis have reportedly complained to Internet search engine Google after the company celebrated the 117th birthday of the late “Mother of Modern Dance” Martha Graham with an animated logo depicting dance motions.
Al-Watan Arabic daily reported that the complaints asked Google to remove the images “as a gesture of respect for Muslims’ feelings”, with members of the public saying that they “encouraged Saudi women to remove the veil”.
The “Google doodle”, which depicts a woman casting her veil behind her and starting to dance, was placed on the company’s international zone, and Al-Watan said that complaints from Saudis asked the company to “respect the privacy of its Saudi zone” and remove the images.
Martha Graham was born on May 11, 1894 in Pennsylvania, USA, and received the country’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her lifetime’s work in dance and choreography.

Here is the doodle:

What do you think? Is this a secret message to Saudi women to throw off their veil?
Should the world at large be more circumspect not to offend Muslim feelings?



28 Responses

  1. This is a sign the Saudis are seriously bored.

  2. white ‘western’ women are more obsessed with the veil than those who actually wear them, so although the reaction is stupid it’s not surprising that some may feel offended even though the image has nothing to do with the veil.

  3. I saw this on another website…as I said then I hope that they told them to go blow and get a life! Though they might think so the world does not revolve around them AND I think Jerry is right…Waaaaay to much free time to look for things that don’t exist.

  4. Even if it’s a subliminal message to cast off the veil, no woman (muslim or other) would actually do something like that just because they saw this creative ad. : ) I think that women who want to cover their hair do so for their own personal reasons…

  5. Welcome to the Land of Conspiracy Theories. Of course Saudis would think this was a plot by the West to encourage “their” women to unveil. If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would be very, very funny!

  6. Q: Should the world at large be more circumspect not to offend Muslim feelings?

    A: Only when Muslims respect others, not before. Its going to be a long long wait.

  7. I think any Muslims who feel Google is “insenstive” etc. should spend their time developing their own search engine instead of whining. There. Problem solved.

  8. What do I think? I think it extremely self-centered and selfish of the Saudis to tell Google what ads can be run. Just because the Saudis are offended does not mean they are right. I am so sick of the crying and whining about being ‘offended’. Just get over yourself, for Heaven’s sake!

  9. We shouldn’t really cast all saudis as being against this doodle,Im sure its the minority who want to pick at something.
    I totally had to agree with “rosecolouredglasses” Its common sense, no muslim woman would do this or even think about it, and i don’t think they would come to that conclusion by looking at the vid.
    If saudis don’t like it then the ones that don’t approve should stop using google, don’t make google change something when being sensitive to muslims is not really their job apart from the fact i don’t believe google is insensitive to anything or anyone intentionally.

  10. Oh come on now, who would be offended by this? It’s beautiful and very creative!

    Just ignore those Saudis who want to nitpick.

  11. Waoh! I absolutely loved this the first time I saw it. Even my Indian colleague who wears the niqab loved it too. Saudis (and Arabs in general) see EVIL everywhere, I am sorry to say so.

  12. I agree with everyone above… didnt see Harry and would probably even agree with him on this one. 😉

  13. It’s the most beautiful Google doodle ever.
    of course also because of Martha Graham’s beautiful dance movements.

    No normal human being could see anything to be offended in this animation.
    So if there really are people who are ”offended” by this or even see a conspiracy in it to encourage women to leave off the death-shroud, they must be:

    1-So self absorbed and narcissistic as to need serious psychological treatment
    2- So paranoid and deluded as to need serious psychological treatment
    3- So unaware of culture, art and civilization that they have no right to speak out loud in the first place.

    Such barbaric, clinically insane neanderthals have no right to waste even a minute of our time.

  14. wow havn’t heard the word “neanderthals” since human bi class in year 12 ..lool love it!

  15. Bella Vita, DNA research showed that modern humans actually carry some Neanderthal DNA, any mixing would have taken place right after the first Homo Sapiens left Africa, in the Middle east. And I think Neanderthals are not wholly extinct. But the only jobs they can do is Muttawa and Religious scholar.

    I have been replaying this animated doodle a few times more. I have been replaying it all week actually I loved it so much. I even downloaded it.

    But now I have been looking at it from the salafi point of view. There’s something to be said of this, while of course it meant nothing of the kind, one could make something out of it.
    If you look at the first figure, the E, it’s Martha Graham in ”Lamentation” (see video) It is an expression of sorrow, but that one movement could also be interpreted as a woman, tied up and struggling to be free. And then the L, a joyous jump to freedom, freedom of movement, hair swinging free, a symbol of freedom, free expression, free body, free mind. And the other figures moving, full of beauty and confidence…
    Yeah I can see how that would rile up a suppressor, a barbarian who makes up superstitions and fairy tales about an all powerful god who will burn women in hell unless they submit to being locked up in a fabric prison, a death-shroud designed to hobble their freedom and render them into shadows.

    I would love it if somebody would adapt this and make it into something which would indeed inspire women to free themselves!

  16. All I can say is, “are you flippin kidding me!?”

    I am muslim and choose to cover with an abaya and niqab. I saw this doddle and I thought it was the coolest thing……..Martha Graham is an amazing artist!

    It sure as heck didn’t make me want to take off my a abaya and go prancing around in the streets! I never even thought about anything like that!

    Totally ridiculous!

  17. This latest saudi attack at google doodle to restrict freedom of speech and expression is “small” potatoes. On a much “BIGGER” global scale, it has tried unsuccessfully … so far … for the last twelve years, along with its sidekick Pakistan, to get the UN to pass a global charter resolution to restrict freedom of speech and expression.

    Under the proposed saudi-sponsored UN resolution, it would be considered blasphemous GLOBALLY to criticize and/or disrespect Islam, Koran, Mohammed, etc., punishable by sharia-based laws. I would urge everyone to keep the pressure on, by writing to our congressional delegation and the president, to ensure that this idiotic saudi-sponsored UN resolution doesn’t see the light of the day.

    BTW, for the first time on this forum, I agree with Jessica (smile):)-

  18. Yes, Harry, but it goes even further than that I think…it isn’t only disrespecting Islam it is ANYTHING that they might deem unflattering or insulting. As far as I know there are no parameters so that leaves it WIDE open for quashing of almost any discussion…imagine what THAT means….does that mean that crazy stuff like honor killing can go on without being addressed or criticized…personally I think it would open a can of worms that would be so difficult to contain that to think of it is frightening. I don’t know about Sharia Punishment. Certainly stoning in the west would never fly, or cutting of hands so I don’t know how that would work. But it can effectively give Islam free reign and make anything it does OK due to saying anything against it would be “blasphemous”. Free speech would take a major hit…

    Also when it was proposed they named islam by name and said “other religions” by way of including everyone. Hardly seems equitable.

  19. Must be a slow news day in Saudi 🙂

  20. Oby,

    Here’s a video clip (10 min) from CNN which nicely summarizes the proposed UN resolution on Anti-Blasphemy efforts by Saudi Arabia and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Countries:

  21. Yeah, I’m sure Martha Graham specifically thought of offending Saudis when she created her choreographies.
    I’m a covered muslim woman and the Saudi stance offends me – where do I complain?

  22. Some peoples need to get a life!!!

  23. This discussion inspired me to make a brilliant Danish cartoon

  24. I find it interesting that quite often those religious Muslims who bring charges of defamation or insulting Islam etc…generally use the excuse that the “feelings of Muslims have been hurt”…meanwhile, quite often Muslims at large arent even aware that their feelings have been hurt until those in charge bring it to their attention with Friday prayer khutbas filled with speech to incite those so called hurt feelings.

    Human beings are the ones that should always always be protected by laws to prevent hate and intolerance…religions…why should religions be protected? Why does man (muslims) have to force laws on others to protect Islam from being hated on…why doesnt God (Allah) himself protect it?

    I once was so angry about something that I uttered the words F**K GOD!!! to the horror of all those around me…who quickly stepped back a healthy distance…Im assuming to be clear of the lightning bolt that was about to strike me for such blasphemy. Funny enough nothing happened. God apparently doesnt get nearly as offended at such things as those who profess to follow him do. Go figure. 😉

  25. Somehow I missed this google doodle. It really is amazing and thanks Aafke-Art (can’t remember spelling of your name) for the clip of “Lamentation”.

    Probably most Muslims don’t notice or give much importance to this kind of thing just a few wackaloon types kick up a fuss. We Christians sure have some wackaloons in our religion. Note the folks that are saying rapture happens tomorrow at 6 pm – sigh.

    At least it provides some comic relief in our often tragic world.

  26. Oh my, tomorrow is the end of the world!? I have a dentist appointment tomorrow does that mean I must cancel? Or will God forgive me my cavities? 😆

  27. The end of the world is in October.
    The rapture is… NOW!!!!!
    I’m still here, so I am not of the ”chosen ones”. So the rest of us will be tortured until we beg to death, until October 1 when god will smite the world with his wrath and burn and destroy everything, people animals, plants, everything.
    Because he loves us so much.

    Anyway, the reasons tens of thousand Saudi men protested against the Google doodle, and were offended and insulted are of course that they dislike women. Especially clever and physically well trained women. That’s why they don’t allow girls to have sport at schools. The whole system is geared towards keeping women weak, in mind and in body.

  28. Martha Graham wore a hoodie. RIP Trayvon. ‘nuf said.

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