A Colombian-born soccer player was allegedly arrested in Saudi Arabia for publicly displaying a tattoo of Jesus on his arm, demonstrating how the Islamic kingdom's strict body Shariah laws can clash with foreign athletes' cultural attitudes.
According to Colombia Reports, Juan Pablo Pino, who plays for Saudi Arabia's Al Nasr soccer club, was arrested by Saudi moral police for publicly displaying his tattoo while at a shopping mall with his pregnant wife in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Pino has a large tattoo of Jesus on his forearm.
Shariah law does not allow tattoos to be publicly displayed, no matter what they are, and Pino has since apologized for breaking Saudi law, expressing "deep sorrow" for his actions.
This is not the first time that tattoos got a soccer player in trouble in Saudi Arabia.
Last year, Romanian soccer player Mirel Radoi of the Al Hilal team drew criticism when he kissed the tattoo of a cross he has on his arm after scoring a goal, the Catholic News Agency reported.
According to the Arab News, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Amri, imam of Al-Rajih Mosque in Jeddah, said tattoos are forbidden in Islam and considered sinful because the Prophet Muhammad said that they are an attempt to change Allah's creation.
Although tattoos are illegal in Saudi Arabia, that does not mean the Saudi people are not getting their bodies inked. Like most things that are illegal, a robust underground business for tattoo-seekers exists in the secretive Muslim country.
The Arab News also reported that Filipino tattoo artists are operating illegally in Saudi Arabia, providing Saudis tattoos from makeshift parlors in their homes. Tattoo-seekers pay upwards of 70 percent more than the going rate in other countries because tattoo artists are so difficult to find.
Piercing is also illegal under Shariah law, and many Saudis go to the same Filipino tattoo artists to get their piercings done. However, due to the underground nature of the business, many places are unhygienic and users run the risk of contracting Hepatitis B and C, the Arab News reported.