Saudi woman in miniskirt video arrested after public outcry
DUBAI – The Associated PressA 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 July 18. 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.
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.
After the woman’s video surfaced, some Saudis expressed alarm, saying that Twitter was being used as a tool to out other citizens.
Saudi writer Waheed al-Ghamdi wrote on Twitter that while the woman violated Saudi laws, her actions did not warrant such an outcry because they did not harm others.
“I am simply questioning the lack of priorities regarding anger and alarm expressed over human rights violations and oppression versus the harmless personal choices of others,” he wrote.