In the US, people watch Fashion Police for commentary on what their favorite celebs wear, but elsewhere in the world, taking a fashion risk can mean something much more serious than a daring red carpet look. A Saudi Arabian woman was just arrested for posting a video to Snapchat that shows her wearing an “indecent outfit.”
Snapchat user Model Khulood posted a video of her touring a fortress north of the capital city of Riyadh wearing a crop top, short flowy skirt, and flat shoes. People quickly began sharing the video on other social platforms.
In less than 24 hours, the video caught the attention of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia’s morality police. A spokesman for the commission issued a statement which said, “The Presidency has identified a video of a girl in a different kind of dress, and is coordinating with the authorities to investigate it.”
In Saudi Arabia, it’s law for Saudi women to wear a long, covering garment called an “abaya” in public, and muslim women are required to cover their hair. Riyadh police issued an arrest warrant for Khulood under the charges that she was, “taking photos in indecent clothing, disrespecting and violating the teachings of Islam, and violating the customs and traditions [of the country].”
Saudi State TV reported Tuesday that Khulood was arrested by authorities. “Riyadh police arrests a woman dressed in indecent clothing in the village of Ushayqir, and has sent her to the public prosecutor.” As the news spread, people were divided on the response to Khulood’s outfit. One user stated that she doesn’t get to ignore the country’s laws.
“She must not go out wearing [clothes] like this in conservative countries. She must respect the laws or else her fate will be decided.” Another said everyone must interpret the laws to maintain order.
“We demand that Khoulood be tried because she acted irresponsibly. Whether you like it or not, you have to respect the law. If everyone rebelled against the law because they did not like it, it would be a mess.”
Others thought the reaction to what would be a normal outfit in many places in the world was much too harsh. Many mentioned the Trumps’ recent visit to the country, where Melania and Ivanka opted to wear Western clothes and keep their hair uncovered.
“I don’t see any difference between those two photos: 1- When Trump’s daughter is on TV screens, we support women rights. 2- But nobody cares about the Saudi woman because she is not on TV, and they are calling for her arrest.”
Others pointed out how unfair it was that foreign women are held to different standards. “If she was a foreign girl, they would be courting to her beauty and her pretty eyes, but because she is a Saudi they demanded that she be tried.”
Some even went as far as “fixing” the problem with a little photo editing. “Okay stop, we have solved the problem.”
Past offenders have faced imprisonment and harsh criticism, including death threats, from the public after photos without the abaya and headscarf went viral on social media. In addition to the long robes and hair coverings, many women in Saudi Arabia also choose to cover their faces with veils, although it is not required. There’s no news yet on Khulood’s punishment.
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(h/t The Cut; photos by Jordan Pix/Getty)