A woman in Saudi Arabia has become the center of an investigation in the Islamic kingdom after she posted a video of herself wearing a miniskirt and walking around empty streets, according to reports Monday. The video triggered debate in the country, with some praising the woman for her “bravery” while others called for her arrest.
The video was posted over the weekend on Snapchat by the woman, who is a model called “Khulood,” according to BBC. In the video, she can be seen walking around the historic fort of Ushayqir — located north of Riyadh — in the Najd province. The woman wore a miniskirt and a black crop top flouting the deeply conservative Muslim country’s dress code.
Women in Saudi Arabia, when in public, are required to wear long, loose robes called “abayas” and cover their hair and face with a veil. According to local Okaz newspaper, officials in Ushayqar urged the provincial governor and police to take action against the woman, who could end up behind bars for violating the country’s dress code.
The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — Saudi Arabia’s religious police — acknowledged on Twitter that it was aware of the video. It also said it was in touch with authorities over the issue which had triggered a debate over the dress code in the kingdom.
Ibrahim al-Munayif, a Saudi writer who has over 41,000 Twitter followers, tweeted that letting people violate the law results in chaos.
“Just like we call on people to respect the laws of countries they travel to, people must also respect the laws of this country,” he wrote in Arabic, according to the Associated Press.
Journalist Khaled Zidan reportedly tweeted: “The return of the Haia [religious police] here is a must.”
Another Twitter user noted: “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.”
However, others came out in support of the woman and blamed the country’s conservative laws. One Twitter user superimposed a picture of Ivanka Trump’s face on the woman’s body and tweeted: “Enough already, the situation has been solved.” Others wrote that had the woman been a foreigner, people would be talking of her beauty, instead of calling for her arrest because she is Saudi Arabian.
Wael al-Gassim, a writer and philosopher reportedly said he was “shocked to see those angry, scary tweets.”
“I thought she had bombed or killed somebody. The story turned out to be about her skirt, which they did not like. I am wondering how Vision 2030 can succeed if she is arrested,” he added, referencing to the reform program announced last year by the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.