If you are visiting Saudi Arabia and see your favorite actor strolling around, do not approach him and ask to pose for a picture, because — unbelievably enough — that might get you both in some trouble with police.
Although it sounds like one of those misreported stories that take on a new life online, a famous Kuwait-based Saudi national actor was recently arrested in the Gulf country for drawing attention and causing hubbub among young female fans at a local shopping mall.
Abdul Aziz al-Kassar, a popular TV presenter and actor in the Arab world, dropped by a mall during a working trip to the capital city of Riyadh when he was mobbed by a large number of women who wanted to take pictures and selfies with him.
While it seemed a fairly normal incident, things took a dark turn when the strict religious police showed up at the scene and assaulted the actor before dragging him away. Someone managed to catch the incident on camera (posted above).
“I asked my followers on Snapchat about the best mall to visit and they recommended Al Nakheel, so I took up their suggestion and said on the social media that I was going there on Friday,” Kassar later told local media in an interview. “However, I did not expect to find so many people waiting for me. I want to clarify that the presence of young women at the mall was not something under my control.”
The Saudi star has since been charged with violating the kingdom’s laws by mixing and taking photographs with women he is not related to, disturbing public order and abusing social media.
“When I stepped in, several fans came over and surrounded me until someone came over and pulled me aside into a room that I learned was reserved for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice inside the mall,” the actor added. “I understood that the man who pulled me was a member of the commission and I did not resist him out of my respect for the commission.”
He also said that the religious police should have warned him about the fans congregating and told him to stay away – which seems to be a valid point.
The actor was released on bail, and although his phone was initially confiscated, he now has it back. Kassar’s case is currently pending investigation.