Saudi Arabia’s morality police reportedly detained a group of men for dancing at a birthday party.
The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, also known as Haia, raided a private residence in the city of Buraydah, stated the state-linked news website Ayn al-Youm.
The men inside were found to be in a “compromising situation in their dance and shameful movements” and were later detained.
Although no details have been released about how many men were arrested or their ages, an unnamed official said that the “young men’s hairstyles and dress were not traditional.” He also urged parents to monitor their kids’ activities “because it can lead to immorality and even homosexuality.”
Burayadah is home to the most ultraconservative clerics in Saudi Arabia who practice Wahhabism, a strict interpretation of Islam.
Soon after the reports emerged, many Saudis took to social media websites like Twitter to criticize the arrests, pointing out the men didn’t break any laws or regulations because they were not partying with women or drinking alcohol.
There were others who used the example of the traditional Saudi sword dances to highlight the hypocrisy of the authorities.
The Haia have been known for going to extremes in enforcing Sharia'h law in the kingdom. Their duty is mainly to make sure the sexes are separated in public and ensure that prayers are being done properly in mosques, however, they are notorious for their abuse of power.
In 2013, the Haia arrested 21-year-old man Abdulrahman al-Khayyal for publicly giving out free hugs in November. Inspired by a viral video of a campaign posted on YouTube, Khayyal hit the streets of Saudi capital, Riyadh, along with a friend, carrying a sign that read "free hugs."
This public display of affection did not go down well with Riyadh's religious police, who promptly arrested the young man for his supposedly audacious and criminal actions.
Last year, a Saudi Arabian judge upheld a sentence of a month in prison and 50 lashes for a businesswoman convicted of "cursing the morality police" and calling them "liars" during an argument.