Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Saudi woman in miniskirt video arrested after public outcry

Published:Wednesday | July 19, 2017 | 7:00 AM
A Saudi woman seen through a heart-shaped statue walks along an inlet of the Red Sea in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

DUBAI (AP):

A Saudi woman has been arrested for defying the kingdom's strict dress code by walking around in a miniskirt and crop top in a video that sparked public outrage.

The woman, whose name was not given, was detained by police in the capital, Riyadh, for wearing "immodest clothes" that contradicted the country's conservative Islamic dress code, state media reported yesterday. Police referred her case to the public prosecutor, according to the official Twitter account of state-run TV channel al-Ekhbariya.

In the video, which has gone viral since first emerging on Snapchat over the weekend, the woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around. The short video, shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia's most conservative tribes and families are from, is followed by other shots of her sitting in the desert.

 

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The video sparked a Twitter hashtag that called for her arrest, with many saying she flagrantly disobeyed Saudi rules, which require all women living in the kingdom, including foreigners, to wear long, loose robes known as abayas in public. Most Saudi women also wear a headscarf and veil that covers the face.

Social media is wildly popular in Saudi Arabia as a space to vent frustrations and gauge public opinion. The outcry against the video and the woman's subsequent arrest reveal how powerful and widespread conservative views are in the kingdom, despite recent moves by Saudi Arabia to modernise and loosen some rules.

The country's 31-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has pushed for greater openings for entertainment, in part to appease the youth, who are active on social media and can bypass government censors online. More than half of Saudi Arabia's population is under 25.