Update 07/19 : According to the ministry of information of Saudi Arabia, the police had released the woman Tuesday night and the prosector had closed the case.

This weekend a Saudi woman posted a video of herself on Snapchat that cost her dearly. In it, she is seen walking away from the camera wearing a mini skirt and a midriff-baring t-shirt. It’s the kind of scene that girls in many places in the world post all the time. But this video was filmed in Ushayqir, a village located in one of the most conservative regions in Saudi Arabia. The footage was shared widely on social media and came to the attention of Saudi authorities, who promptly arrested her.


Scarcely 24 hours after the video was posted, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the formal name for Saudi Arabia’s religious police, which are based in Riyadh, announced that they were opening an investigation into the matter.

"The president’s office identified a video of a girl with immodest clothes and we are coordinating with the authorities to investigate,” the committee tweeted on July 16.  The Saudi religious police are tasked with applying Sharia law, which includes the law that women must wear an abaya -- a loose overgarment that covers their hair and body.


The photo of what appeared to be an arrest warrant released by the police in Riyadh was also widely shared on Twitter. According to the document, the young woman-- nicknamed “Khulood”-- was accused of taking pictures “while wearing indecent clothing, lacking respect and violating the teachings of Islam, as well as the traditions and customs of the country.”



State television announced that the woman had been arrested on Tuesday, July 18. She is supposed to appear before the public prosecutor, who will decide whether or not to press charges against her.





A hashtag demanding that the woman be punished

On social media, many Saudi citizens criticised the woman, mocking her for acting like a model on Snapchat. Quite a few posts included the hashtag #مطلوب_محاكمه_مودل_خلود (“we demand that ‘Khulood, the model’, be brought before a court”).

“In France, the niqab [a veil that covers the face as part of a hijab] is banned and women are fined if they wear it. In Saudi Arabia, wearing abayas and modest clothing is part of the laws of the kingdom,” wrote a Twitter user.


Saudi writer Ibrahim al-Mounif denounced the “anarchic behavior” of the model and called for people to respect the law.


Journalist Khaled Zidan called the woman a "deviant".


Other internet users have shared the picture across social media taking care to blur the woman's arms and legs.
“Don’t make stupid people famous,” tweeted one man.

There were many comments from people who shared these views. Some people re-posted screengrabs of the footage, but blurred her body or covered up her legs in some way (sometimes using Paint to scribble them out).




On the other hand, others were more supportive of the woman in question and condemned authorities. One Saudi woman pointed out what she perceived as the contradictory behavior of Saudi authorities.

"If the girl was a foreigner, they would have praised the beauty of her figure or her eyes… but because she is Saudi, they demand that she be arrested,” the woman said on Twitter.

Others pointed out the exceptional treatment of foreign women dignatories who visit the kingdom. For example, when the daughter and wife of the American President Donald Trump-- Ivanka and Melania Trump -- visited Saudi Arabia in May 2017, they didn’t wear any kind of abaya or veil.




In Saudi Arabia, the religious police make a habit of telling off women whose clothing doesn’t align with what they see as moral dress codes.

Read on THE OBSERVERS >> Saudi woman films surreal pursuit by religious police

In February 2016, the methods of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice stirred up a scandal on social media after they arrested a Saudi man wearing a princess costume in Riyadh.