Saudi police has arrested Malak Al Shehri for tweeting a picture of herself outdoors without a headscarf or the traditional full length robe.
The tweet caused a backlash in the ultra-conservative society of Saudi Arabia and an Arabic hashtag translating to “We demand the arrest of the rebel Angel Shehri” was formed.
Shehri took down her picture and deleted her Twitter account, in light of the controversy, but it was too late. Someone had already filed a complaint to the religious police that eventually led to Shehri’s arrest, according to local paper, Al-Sharq.
The police added Shehri was also “speaking openly about prohibited relations with (non-related) men.”
“Police officers have detained a girl who had removed her abaya on al-Tahliya street, implementing a challenge she announced on social media several days ago,” the newspaper quoted Colonel Fawaz al-Maiman, a Riyadh police spokesman.
He also added the police acted according to the laws of the kingdom which include monitoring “violations of general morals.”
Twitter users have come out in support of Shehri including one who compared her to Rosa Parks — a black American civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat for white people in the Jim Crow era.
A Saudi woman went out yesterday without an Abaya or a hijab in Riyadh Saudi Arabia and many Saudis are now demanding her execution. pic.twitter.com/gPMOz5bRAr— Anon (@dontcarebut) November 29, 2016
A woman in Saudi Arabia has set off a scorching round of criticism after allegedly stepping out on the streets of Riyadh without a headscarf.
International Business Times reports the backlash started after a 21-year-old student from Dammam, who identified herself with an alias Sara Ahmed due to security reasons, shared the tweet of another woman named Malak Al Shehri, who was photographed “wearing a dark blue coat, bright multicolored skirt and boots.”
Saudi Arabia is a deeply conservative Islamic society where women in public are required to cover their heads and wear loose clothing — traditionally, a black, robe-like dress called the abaya.
Failure to comply with the rules pertaining to clothing often results in nasty skirmishes with the kingdom’s much-feared religious police called the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, also known as Hayaa, or Mutawiyin (meaning the pious).
IBTimes added after Ahmed shared the tweet a lot of Saudi Twitter users reacted with outrage, with some even calling for the woman’s execution. One person even suggested to “kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs.”
"So many people retweeted it and what she did reached extremists, so she got threats. She deleted her tweets but they didn't stop, so she deleted her account," Ahmed told IBTimes on Twitter.
Ahmed, who identifies as an atheist, also stated that the reaction to the woman’s photo is not shocking in Saudi Arabia.
"I'm an atheist and I still wear the hijab in most places because that's how society here is. It's inexcusable to remove it. In fact, many of my atheist friends have to cover their faces because their families are more conservative than mine, and it's not just atheists, many Muslim women want to remove them," she wrote. "The tweets were sad, just basic things are dreams here.”