NEWS

Saudi Woman Arrested After Wearing Skirt And Crop Top In Viral Video

19/07/2017 2:25 AM IST | Updated 19/07/2017 10:12 PM IST

Update: July 19 ― Khulood, the woman in the video, has been released without being charged with any crimes, The New York Times reported. The Saudi Information Ministry said Wednesday she was released a few hours after her arrest and that she claimed the videos were shared without her knowledge.

Previously: 

A Saudi woman was arrested this week after a video went viral that showed her walking around the country in an illegal outfit.

The woman, identified by the BBC as a model named Khulood, was arrested for being out in public in the short skirt and crop top she was wearing in the video, the Saudi Arabian state news agency Al Ekhbariya announced Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia imposes strict modesty laws on all women, requiring them to be covered while in public. Women are also prevented from driving and are required to be under male guardianship in public, according to the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

That country’s austere laws about women are likely why an otherwise innocuous video went viral. 

The country’s religious police ― known officially as the Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice ― released a statement on Twitter on Sunday saying they were working with authorities on the matter. 

In the video, which was posted to Snapchat on Sunday, Khulood can be seen walking alone in the Ushayqir Heritage Village, outside of Riyadh, the nation’s capital. Her skirt is above the knee and her top bares her midriff. 

Khulood’s outfit created a divide on social media, with some defending her but others saying she deserved to be arrested for violating the law. 

“Mind your own business,” one Twitter user wrote. “This is Saudi Arabia and this is its regime. You have to either obey or leave baby.” 

Others pointed out an inconsistency in the application of the country’s laws, arguing that when certain foreign women make official visits, as Ivanka Trump did in May, the rules of modesty aren’t enforced. 

“One month ago these people were drooling over Ivanka, now because another woman does it they go crazy,” another Twitter user wrote. 

One Twitter user shared an image of a spliced photo of Trump over Khulood’s head

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman changed the line of succession in June, ousting his 57-year-old nephew who was next in line for the throne and replacing him with his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman.

Bin Salman, though holding aggressive views on foreign policy, has previously pushed to lessen the power of the country’s religious police.

But human rights advocates argue that despite some reforms, including giving women the right to vote in local elections in 2015, the Saudi government’s policies toward women remain woefully behind much of the world.

“Saudi leaders should realize that they can’t transform the country’s economy and society without granting women rights on par with men and allowing Saudis to openly criticize government policies and call for human rights,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Right’s Watch Middle East director, said in a press release last month. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the age of Saudi Arabia’s former crown prince. He is 57.

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