On Monday, a young Saudi woman identified as a Saudi model and only by her Snapchat name Khulood caused online controversy when she posted a video of her walking around the historic fort in Ushaiager, a village north of the capital, Riyadh, where many of Saudi Arabia‘s most conservative families live (Okaz, a Saudi news site, published the image with her lower half blurred.)
As of mid-day Tuesday (July 18), Khulood has been arrested and detained by the Saudi Arabian government in response to calls for the model’s arrest. Once detained, the woman told the Riyadh authorities that “the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge,” according to the statement. The statement also says that her case has been referred to the general prosecution counsel in Riyadh.
On Sunday, the Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (as the New York Times says, “religious police”) said they were monitoring the issue and taking the “necessary steps” to address a viral video depicting a “girl in offensive clothing.”
The video (below), which was initially posted on her Snapchat and then downloaded to Twitter, shows Khulood in a printed miniskirt and black crop top. Another Saudi Twitter user, Fatima Al-Issa, posted the video with the caption: “If she were 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.”
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Immediately, a Twitter storm ensued, with some Saudi’s calling for the Khulood’s arrest while others scramble to her defense. Two competing hashtags also emerged: one demanding her arrest (#WeDemandATrialForTheModelKhulood) and the other arguing for her right to wear a short skirt, especially given the recent controversy with First Lady Melania Trump.
Saudi women are held to strict standards regarding their appearance and dress, required to wear an abaya (long, loose robe) and cover their head and majority of the face. This is not the first time a Saudi woman has been arrested in Riyahd due to a viral video or photo. Back in December, a woman known as Malak al-Shehri, who was a big donor to the Clinton Foundation, was arrested for posting a photo of herself going out in public wearing a Western-looking outfit instead of her abaya.