A 19-year-old Saudi man, named Abu Sin (the toothless one), has been released on bail after he spent 10 days in prison for posting videos on YouNow program showing him talking to a foreign girl.
Spokesman for Riyadh Police Col. Fawaz Al-Mayman said, "Abu Sin was jailed for violating decency and religious values."
Abu Sin and the Californian girl neither spoke the other's language. He did not understand English and she Arabic and this led to some comic moments for those watching the video.
The conversations between Abu Sin and the girl were first broadcast on YouNow before being relayed on YouTube. They soon grew in popularity on that platform, garnering hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Abu Sin was arrested for his "unethical behavior" and police claimed his videos were "enticing" young audiences and inviting "negative attention" from viewers around the world on Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to Al-Bilad daily, Al-Mayman said Abu Sin was arrested and imprisoned for breaching the sixth article of the information security law. He could face a five-year sentence and fine reaching SR3 million.
A video posted on social media following his release showed Abu Sin responding to a friend who asked him, "What happened to you in prison?" and Abu Sin replied, "It's over, it's over, no more fun."
Abdullah Al-Nahsi congratulated Abu Sin for his release and called for him to go through rehabilitation. "This young man can be beneficial to his country. He just needs to be guided. We should congratulate him on his release and wish him the best," said Al-Nahsi.
The events surrounding Abu Sin's arrest received a mix of heated reactions from Saudi media commentators. Two of the Kingdom's most prominent writers — Abdulrahman Al-Rashed and Mshari Al-Thaydi — took opposing sides of the debate through their columns and on Twitter, suggesting the topic was no local matter but a national one.
"The question of Abu Sin begs a bigger question about the level of the upbringing of children with certain values in the Kingdom. Children as young as seven or eight are now publishing their own content after watching Abu Sin's videos online," Thaydi wrote.
Al-Rashed disagreed with the arrest and wrote strongly against the Riyadh Police and Thaydi, saying: "I disagree with Thaydi and against the Riyadh Police arresting Abu Sin because of his silliness as there is no law prohibiting it. We can't accept anything but silliness from teenagers and expect them to be grownups."
Al Arabiya News Channel's General Manager joined the debate, saying: "We are confronting a big problem and proof of that is the discussion between two prominent writers on a subject which some believe is insignificant."
The disparity in opinions has also trickled down to the youth, who, while some sympathized with Abu Sin still believed it was a mix of external factors that needed to be addressed.
"The trend of abusing social media with unnecessary and immoral actions has been on the rise. Abu Sin is not the first to abuse it and get arrested for it, mind you," Saudi journalist Majed Al-Turki told Al Arabiya English.
Before Abu Sin's arrest, another YouNow Saudi vlogger Majed Al-Anizi became famous for using the platform in a similar manner. He was arrested after posting a sarcastic sketch with a younger user and was accused of "perversion of character" and child abuse.
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