Values & traditions

Man arrested in Saudi Arabia over ‘offensive video’ he appeared in with a woman co-worker

(YouTube)

An Egyptian man living in Saudi Arabia has been arrested over “an offensive video” that apparently showed him eating breakfast with a woman co-worker who is wearing niqab. In the video, the woman could be seen feeding the man by hand while the two shared a meal at a desk in a hotel, prompting anger from conservatives. In a statement given on Sunday, the labor ministry announced that they had arrested the man, who worked at the hotel, and issued a summons to the hotel’s owner for failing to enforce a gender-segregated workplace in accordance with Saudi law. According to CNN, the man has been identified as Bahaa.

According to reports by local media, the video depicted the man and woman “in a provocative scene.” The news of Bahaa’s arrest drew praise from religious conservatives who complained that expatriates needed to respect the “values and traditions of Saudi society,” even as activists pointed to the incident as further evidence of the second-class status of women in a country where women require the permission of a male guardian in order to travel or perform other basic and essential activities. Others, however, particularly social media users based in Egypt, were appalled that an arrest had been made over such a benign video.

While the country’s new crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has promised to improve the legal standing of women in the country — including by finally allowing access to driver’s licenses — a flurry of recent arrests of women’s rights activists, some of whom are even facing the death penalty, has tempered expectations about his self-professed desire to achieve greater gender equality.

In similar incidents, a women’s fitness center was shut down in April after religious figures expressed outrage over a promotional video in which a woman was said to be wearing clothes that were too form-fitting, and a television reporter was forced to flee the country in June after being accused of “wearing indecent clothing” by The General Commission for Audiovisual Media after her white abaya and headscarf were deemed too loose-fitting.

Watch the “offensive” video that caused the uproar below.

Read the full story at Yahoo News.

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