A Saudi woman has been arrested for a video that was widely shared on-line which showed her strolling along an empty street wearing a skirt and crop top, Saudi State television channel Ekhbariya reported overnight.
The clip had incensed some social media users in the conservative Muslim kingdom who vented their anger using the hashtag “Model Khulood must be tried” a reference to what they said was the woman’s Snapchat name.
Many of those critics shared images of the video with her bare legs and midriff blurred out or painted over.
Saudi Arabian news outlets have even taken to pixelating out the woman’s bare flesh.
Others offered their support for the woman, suggesting her behavior was brave and that prominent foreigners sometimes dress similarly when visiting Saudi Arabia, and they are exempted from the country’s dress codes. Many of them pointed out that Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump did not wear abayas when they visited the country in May, to little public outcry.
In the video, the unidentified woman walks alone through a an ancient fort flanked by mudbrick walls, in what users identified as Ushaiqir, a heritage village and day-trip destination outside the capital Riyadh.
“Riyadh police have detained the woman who appeared in indecent clothing in Ushaiqir and referred her to the public prosecutor,” Ekhbariya said on its official Twitter account, including the popular hashtag.
Home to Islam’s holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the kingdom cleaves to a strict interpretation of Islam and requires Saudi women to wear conservative dress and bans them from driving.
“Saudi Arabia’s continuing obsession with policing women’s clothing choices shows authorities haven’t moved on from the paternalistic and discriminatory mind-set that hampers women’s lives,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. “Saudi Arabia’s purported plans to reshape society and advance women’s rights will never succeed as long as authorities go after women for what they wear.” Reuters