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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Saudi Woman Wearing Miniskirt in Video Arrested Following Public Outcry **UPDATE**

As I have pointed out a few times, Islam is progressive, not progressive in a liberal sense, quite the opposite. Islam progresses toward more and more strict Sharia, or Sharia-like attitudes until women are made virtually invisible.

**UPDATE**: Several news agencies are reporting today that the girl has been released without charge.

Video sparked Twitter backlash, with many saying she broke country's strict dress code for women
The Associated Press

A woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around. The short video was shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia's most conservative tribes and families are from.

A woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around.
The short video was shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia's
most conservative tribes and families are from. (Khulood/Snapchat)

A Saudi woman has been arrested for defying the kingdom's strict dress code by walking around in a miniskirt and crop top in a video that sparked public outrage.

The woman, whose name was not given, was detained by police in the capital, Riyadh, for wearing "immodest clothes" that contradicted the country's conservative Islamic dress code, state media reported Tuesday. Police referred her case to the public prosecutor, according to the official Twitter account of state-run TV channel al-Ekhbariya.

In the video, which has gone viral since first emerging on Snapchat over the weekend, the woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around. The short video, shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia's most conservative tribes and families are from, is followed by other shots of her sitting in the desert.

The video sparked a Twitter hashtag that called for her arrest, with many saying she flagrantly disobeyed Saudi rules, which require all women living in the kingdom, including foreigners, to wear long, loose robes known as abayas in public. Most Saudi women also wear a headscarf and veil that covers the face.

In other words, for women to be invisible in public.

Social media is wildly popular in Saudi Arabia as a space to vent frustrations and gauge public opinion. The outcry against the video and the woman's subsequent arrest reveal how powerful and widespread conservative views are in the kingdom, despite recent moves by Saudi Arabia to modernize and loosen some rules.

The country's 31-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has pushed for greater openings for entertainment in part to appease the youth, who are active on social media and can bypass government censors online. More than half of Saudi Arabia's population is under 25.

The government announced last week that girls would be allowed for the first time to play sports in public school and have access to physical education classes. The powers of the kingdom's religious police have also been curtailed, and they are officially no longer allowed to arrest people.

This is a clear attempt to reverse some of the stringent application of Sharia. It will be interesting to see if it leads anywhere. The reaction on Twitter would make it seem that loosening moral codes is not a a popular idea.

Despite these moves, strict gender segregation rules and other restrictions on women remain in place. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and cannot obtain a passport or travel abroad without a male relative's permission.

After the woman's video surfaced, some Saudis expressed alarm, saying that Twitter was being used as a tool to out other citizens.

Saudi writer Waheed al-Ghamdi wrote on Twitter that while the woman violated Saudi laws, her actions did not warrant such an outcry because they did not harm others.

Ivanka Trump, left, and Melania Trump are seen at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May. Some have noted the two women did not cover their heads or wear abayas. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

"I am simply questioning the lack of priorities regarding anger and alarm expressed over human rights violations and oppression versus the harmless personal choices of others," he wrote.

Some of those defending her posted images from U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia in May, in which his wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka, though modestly dressed in higher necklines and longer sleeves, did not cover their heads or wear abayas.

The woman's image was blurred on Saudi news websites reporting on the case. It is common in Saudi Arabia to see heavily blurred or pixelated images of women's faces on billboards and storefronts — in stark contrast to the many towering images of senior male royals displayed across the country.

Of course, can't have women with faces! They wouldn't be invisible!

The 6 second video can be seen here