After video of a Saudi woman wearing only a miniskirt and a crop top went viral on Sunday, public outcry eventually led to her arrest and questioning by police. According to a translation provided by USA Today, the state-run television network al-Ekhbariya indicated the woman identified only as “Khulood” was detained for wearing “suggestive” clothing following the massive response to the video. The six-second video initially appeared on a Snapchat account, but eventually made its way onto Twitter and other platforms.
CNN reports Khulood, per a statement from police in the Saudi city of Riyadh, claimed “the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge.” Despite the video and account being allegedly used without her informed consent, however, a spokesperson for the country’s Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice said they will take the “necessary steps” to address the “girl in offensive clothing.”
In Saudi Arabia, which follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law, all women are required to wear an “abaya,” which is a loose-fitting form of clothing that covers the entire body. Saudi women in particular are also expected to cover their hair when out in public. In the video, however, Khulood wears only the aforementioned miniskirt and crop top. And to make matters worse, the video was reportedly taken at an historic site in Ushayqir, a city in the Najd province and the birthplace of the ultra-conservative school of Islam known as “Wahhabism.”
Despite much of the social media backlash against Khulood and the video, however, many have rallied around her using the former’s hashtag, #مطلوب_محاكمه_مودل_خلود. (Per CNN, the hashtag literally translates as “the trial of Khulood the model is a must.”) As one user explained in verse, “Showing skin isn’t wrong / Sexuality isn’t wrong / Free expression isn’t wrong. / It’s the 21st century you idiots.” With repeated calls for a trial to take place, however, the debate over whether Khulood is at fault for the video — which she apparently didn’t post or consent to posting — isn’t over yet.
UPDATE: The Associated Press reporters Saudi authorities released the woman known as “Khulood” without charge. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Center for International Communication indicated she had been questioned for several hours, but was ultimately released from their custody late Tuesday night.