"Will Saudis Ban the Letter 'X'"?

Youssef Ibrahim, former New York Times Middle East correspondent, writes in the New York Sun:

The letter "X" soon may be banned in Saudi Arabia because it resembles the mother of all banned religious symbols in the oil kingdom: the cross.

The new development came with the issuing of another mind-bending fatwa, or religious edict, by the infamous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice -— the group of senior Islamic clergy that reigns supreme on all legal, civil, and governance matters in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The commission's damning of the letter "X" came in response to a Ministry of Trade query about whether it should grant trademark protection to a Saudi businessman for a new service carrying the English name "Explorer." ...

Among the commission's deeds is the famed 1974 fatwa -— issued by its blind leader at the time, Sheik Abdul Aziz Ben Baz — which declared that the Earth was flat and immobile....

Still more interesting details in the article; thanks to David Kaplan of USNews.com for the pointer.

UPDATE: Bill Poser (Language Log) points out that "in some circles in Israel, the plus-sign is avoided due to its resemblance to the cross and is replaced with a version that looks like this: ﬩ It is actually in Unicode, at codepoint U+FB29, dubbed HEBREW LETTER ALTERNATIVE PLUS SIGN." Zayiny! (Well, OK, not quite.)

Poser's correspondents report that "the truncated plus sign turns up in some ulpan (Hebrew language classes for non-Israelis) and in the lower grades of primary school." That strikes me as pretty silly -- a weird signal of insecurity that shows you're obsessed so with the other religion that anything that even reminds people of it is somehow seen as a threat. But at least not as bad as trying to demand that private enterprises do the same.

On the other hand, those crescent-shaped bananas ....