Saudi ‘rebel’ who went out without hijab arrested

Published December 13th, 2016 - 01:10 GMT
Al Shehri received death threats after she posted this picture on Twitter (Twitter)
Al Shehri received death threats after she posted this picture on Twitter (Twitter)

She captured the attention of the world after receiving death threats for sharing a picture of herself in a Riyadh street without the compulsory abaya or hijab. Now, Malak Al Shehri has reportedly been arrested by the Saudi authorities.

A fortnight ago the young Saudi woman shared a photo of her wearing a shin-length colorful dress covered only by a coat on Twitter. The image received a wave of hatred from Saudi social media users, with many commenters using the hashtag “we demand the arrest of the rebel Malak al Shehri”.

It seems that Saudi twitter users have got their wish, as yesterday it was reported by al-Sharq newspaper that Al Shehri had been detained by the religious police following the filing of a complaint.

The abaya and hijab are compulsory for women in the highly conservative Gulf nation, a law that is enforced by the so-called Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Some Saudis celebrated her arrest:

Thank God for her arrest and we call for the application of the heaviest penalties. She has not respected the system of the state.

Others offered her encouragement, and criticized religious extremism:

The bearded fools say that #Malak_al-Shuhri is the victim of the girls of the Guardianship Must Fall campaign, and atheism. [But in fact] they are victims of the religious clerics who have killed security men and spread terrorism.

The Guardianship Must Fall movement is a Twitter campaign, launched in the summer, which calls for the end of the restrictive system of male guardianship in the country. Under this system, women are required to seek permission from a male relative in order to undertake everyday activities including working, studying, travelling and seeking medical assistance. Many in the country have accused the women's rights campaigners of encouraging atheism and immorality, and exploiting young women.

Al Shehri has also received support from around the world following widespread media coverage of her social media treatment. Many have used the hashtag “solidarity with Malak” since news of her arrest emerged:

Punishments for violations of Islamic law are harsh in Saudi Arabia, and many western media sources have reported that Al Shehri may be lashed for her actions.


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