Re-Imagining Saudi Arabia: Yemeni Girl in Mini-Skirt Walks Through Ushayqir

Published July 18th, 2017 - 11:55 GMT
Saudi Arabia: where wearing a skirt could land you prison (screenshot)
Saudi Arabia: where wearing a skirt could land you prison (screenshot)

After a social media star was filmed in Saudi Arabia wearing a short skirt in public, Twitter was flooded with messages criticizing her dress and calling for her arrest.

In the video, uploaded to Snapchat at the weekend, a woman named online as “model” Kholoud Yafi'i  is seen flouting strict modesty laws in the ultra-conservative kingdom by sporting a mini skirt and crop top. Huffpost's Arabic site reported that Kholoud is a Yemeni living in Saudi Arabia.

The footage soon went viral, with many Saudis condemning Kholoud's "shameful" behavior (after watching a video of it, of course).

Disgraceful video - Appearance of the model Kholoud in sexy and semi-naked clothes in #Ushayqir and calls for #ProsecutionOfModelKholoud - the video and more details in the first tweet

The hashtag Ushayqir - referring to the historic fort and Heritage Village where the “violation” took place - began trending. Ushayqir is in conservative Najd province, the home of Wahhabism.

Another hashtag, “we demand the prosecution of model Kholoud” also took off, as Saudis called on the authorities to punish the young woman.

You must punish, in front of everyone, her ugly and offensive act of spreading nakedness and ugliness. She wants to revive the temptation of nakedness for Muslim girls. Where are you, Committee [for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, agency responsible for the Religious police]?

Nudity: their next project for Saudi women. Where is the state['s response] to this act and the person behind it? And how dare she take off her "clothes" in a state where Sharia is applied? Come back [religious police]

We should respect the laws of the country. In France, the niqab [face-covering veil] is banned and women are fined if they wear it. In Saudi Arabia, wearing abayas and modest clothing is part of the kingdom's laws.

This is a malicious Yemeni called Kholoud Yafi'i who is provoking the Saudi people and debasing the heratage of our ancestors by filming videos in which she is almost naked.

The image included with this tweet is of her arrest warrant for wearing clothes “contrary to the teaching of the Islamic religion”.

It is not clear whether Kholoud has yet been detained by the authorities, however the official Twitter account of the presidency of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice indicated on Sunday that it had been made aware of the video.

A spokesman for the Haia in Riyadh: the presidency has seen the clip of a girl in contravening clothes, and has coordinated with the relevant authorities.

In a similar incident in December 2016, Malak Al Shehri, a young Saudi woman was arrested for images of her without abaya or hijab in a Riyadh street, following a social media campaign. 

In an indication of a growing women’s rights movement in the country, however, a section of the Saudi Twitterati also expressed support for Kholoud and called out alleged hypocrisy from fellow Saudis.

If she was a foreigner, they would sing about the beauty of her waist and the enchantment of her eyes... But because she is Saudi they are calling for her arrest.

Why all this fuss? You turned your eyes away from all the catastrophes in the world and the only thing that outraged you is a woman not wearing an abaya?

Twitter has been a focus for Saudi women’s rights campaigning in recent months. A hashtag calling for the “fall of [the] male guardianship” system, which requires women to seek permission from a male relative for many everyday activities, has been trending on-and-off for a year. The social media campaign has already made gains, with the Saudi government issuing a decree allowing women to access public services without a male relative’s permission earlier in May.

The restrictions placed on women in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world to ban women from driving, have long fascinated many in the West, and rights violations are heavily covered by Western media. 

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