A woman in Saudi Arabia is facing calls for her execution after a photo of her appearing in public without wearing a hijab was posted on social media. According to reports, Malak Al Shehri posted the photo of herself in the Saudi capital of Riyadh wearing a dark coat covering a floral dress, dark sunglasses — but no hijab, or abaya, a traditional body covering worn by women in Saudi Arabia. The backlash came swift and fierce with some people calling for her death and others calling for her imprisonment.
The International Business Times was able to make contact with a Twitter user who posted the photo of the Al Shehri alongside three screenshots of extreme tweets users posted in response to the photo of her without the hijab. Each tweet included a hashtag that reportedly translates to “We demand the imprisonment of the rebel Angel Al Shehri.” The name Malak in Arabic translates to “Angel.”
The woman, a student from the city of Damman who used the alias Sara Ahmed due to fears that her own life could be in danger for sharing the photo, told the IBT that Al Shehri posted the photo to her Twitter account @AngelQShe, but decided to delete the tweet and the entire account after the death threats began flooding in. “So many people retweeted it and what she did reached extremists, so she got threats. She deleted her tweets but they didn’t stop, so she deleted her account,” Ahmed explained.
Directly below is a screenshot of Ahmed’s tweet, captured by another user. Much of the invective came from men who were angry about the public display
— مهاي (@DE_X77) November 29, 2016
Al Shehri received a fair amount of support on Twitter amid all of the hate-fueled threats. One Twitter user declared her a modern day Rosa Parks, another pointed out that conservatives were putting their dogma ahead of a woman’s actual life and wellbeing.
En modern Rosa Parks? Snacka om att våga försöka förändra. https://t.co/sazDX07xgx
— Daniel Croona (@danielcroona) November 29, 2016
Last year, a similar scenario played out in Iran when a popular actress, Sadaf Taherian, posted photos on Facebook and Instragram showing her in public not wearing a hijab. The backlash was so intense and some of it came from government officials who barred Taherian from working, a move that prompted her to flee the country.
The latest controversy over the compulsory hijab erupted almost simultaneously as another story out of Saudi Arabia made international headlines. A billionaire Saudi Prince issued a statement saying it’s “high time” the kingdom lift its infamous ban that prohibits women from driving automobiles. Saudi Arabia is the world’s only country where driving is illegal for women.
Read the full story at The Independent.