As the American Library Association kick off Banned Book Week, an annual event designed to draw attention to censorship issues, a bizarre case of visual censorship by IKEA is in the news.
The Swedish furniture company acknowledged that catalogs distributed in Saudi Arabia were retouched, with women disappearing from some photos. For example, the Swedish publication Metro noted that an original photo showed a pajama-clad woman standing at a bathroom sink, with two children and a man nearby -- the very picture of "Leave it to Beaver" wholesomeness. But in the Saudi version, the woman has vanished -- even her reflection in the mirror is gone.
In a statement, IKEA's worldwide franchisor said the retouchings occurred during the "work process" but were not requested by the Saudi franchisee. IKEA said it had "reviewed several of the discussed pictures, for example the women in front of the bathroom mirror ... . Those pictures could very well have been included in the Saudi Arabian catalogue. We will naturally review our routines and working process, to ensure that this will not happen again. We deeply regret that mistakes have been made in this instance."