'Christian' Union Jack on school uniforms hidden by Saudi religious police

The logo of the British International School in Riyadh was partially amended to hide the UK flag in Saudi's M&S stores.Middle East Eye (MEE)

The Marks & Spencer retailer has been forced by Saudi officials to partially cover up a school uniform's logo because it featured a British flag.

Any form of Christian symbolism is banned in Saudi Arabia and the government in Riyadh considers the cross within the Union Jack a mark of public non-Islamic worship. The religious police ordered the retailer to partially cover the logo of a prominent fee-paying international school, which features both a Saudi and British flag, and hide the uniforms from store displays.

A piece of cloth was added to hide the union flag but leave the Saudi flag exposed.Middle East Eye (MEE)

One British expat inquired about buying a uniform but was told they were not on display and had to be specially requested, according to Middle East Eye (MEE) which first reported the story.

When the uniform was finally brought out the UK flag had been covered with a piece of cloth leaving only the Saudi flag visible.

A spokesman from Marks and Spencer told MEE: "Like all retailers who operate in Saudi, we comply fully with local legislation.

"This was an isolated instance on a very small handful of bespoke school uniform products for a local international school in Riyadh. We are now selling the bespoke uniforms directly to the parents at the school."

Christianity is officially outlawed in Saudi Arabia although it is thought more than one million Christians, mainly migrant workers, live in the Islamic state. Ties between the Arab country and the UK are strong. Following the death of the former Saudi King Abdullah in 2015, flags on official buildings around the UK were flown at half mast to the outrage of human rights groups.