Women in Saudi Arabia have to endure what is probably the most strict dress code in the world, requiring them to wear loose-fitting, full-length robes in public plus, if they are Muslim, a headscarf. But a young model who goes by the name ‘Khulood’ decided to defy that code and had herself filmed as she walked around a historic fort in Ushayqir wearing a short skirt and a crop top. The video has been circulating on Twitter and needlessly to say has all the religious conservatives all of a doo-dah at the sacrilegious sight of women’s skin.
Journalist Khaled Zidan wrote: “The return of the Haia [religious police] here is a must.”
Another user argued: “We should respect the laws of the country. In France, the niqab [face-covering veil] is banned and women are fined if they wear it. In Saudi Arabia, wearing abayas and modest clothing is part of the kingdom’s laws.”
I was immediately worried for that woman. In the video she turns around and shows her face and that would be enough to identify her. The Saudi regime and its religious police are brutal and she may be harshly punished.
On Monday, the Okaz newspaper reported that officials in Ushayqir had called on the provincial governor and police to take action against the woman.
The religious police, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, meanwhile wrote on Twitter that it had been made aware of the video and was in contact with the relevant authorities.
New reports say that the woman has been arrested.
A Riyadh police spokesman said in a statement: “She admitted to visiting the site in question with a male guardian, and that the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge.”
Reports that she was being hunted by religious police appear to have been stood up this afternoon (18 July) as Al Ekhbariya reported her arrest.
“Riyadh police arrested a woman dressed in indecent clothing in the village of Ushayqir, and has sent her to the public prosecutor,” the network said in a tweet.
The Saudi regime and its religious police are ruthless and she could face severe punishments though not as bad as some of the most bloodthirsty elements in that society might wish.
A recent, similar crime to that of model Khulood’s was committed by Malak Al Shehri, who shared a photo of herself wearing a skirt and no hijab on the streets of Riyadh in December 2016.
Like Khulood, she was promptly arrested and her case was filed by police. Various western news agencies speculated that she would be lashed for her offence but there has been no official statement to corroborate this.
Certain sections of Saudi society expressed as severe a contempt for Al Sheri on Twitter as they have done in the Khulood case.
One said: “The least punishment for her is beheading her.” Another added: “Kill her and throw her body to the dogs,” according to the Daily Mail.
It is possible that the global media attention has pressured Saudi authorities into downplaying the incident, not wishing to cause a diplomatic fallout. This is a factor that will also be pertinent to the Khulood case.
However, Khulood’s choice of attire was far more revealing than Al Shehri’s, whose skirt fell below the knee and arms were covered. Khulood was also filmed moving her body with a degree of freedom that will no doubt be regarded as sexual provocation by the state’s religious police.
Walking like a woman is an offense in Saudi Arabia it seems. What an awful country. If any country deserved to be shunned, it would be Saudi Arabia. And yet every US government and president grovels before them.