A woman in Saudi Arabia who was detained by police after a video of herself walking in a skirt went viral, has been released.
The woman, whose name has not been released, became known as “Khulood the Model” and a hashtag demanding her arrest and trial quickly followed suit.
— فاطمة العيسى (@50BM_) July 16, 2017
The video shows the woman simply walking through a historic military fort in Ushaiager, the Associated Press reports. This village resides in a region of Saudi Arabia known for the extremely conservative sect of Islam called Wahhabism, which pervades Saudi government, society, and culture.
As of Wednesday, the woman had been released by police after reportedly being detained in the capital city Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has strict dress codes, and particularly for women. In public, women are supposed to be clad in an abaya, or a head to toe loose-fitting garment. In a not-too-distant past, the penalties for a woman caught dressing and filming herself in what is surely an intentionally provocative way would incur far greater punishment.
However, with an increasingly high proportion of young people in the Kingdom, heir to the throne Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seen as a potential ally in reforming rules and laws with regard to social media and entertainment access. Starting in 2016 as part of his “Vision 2030” plan, Saudi Arabia’s infamous religious police no longer have the authorities to harass, intimidate, and arrest those they have deemed as in violation of their strict religious rules.
In addition, the increasingly globalized world via social media and its effect on places as conservative and closed off as Saudi Arabia is illustrated in this very instance, with the debate among Saudis occurring over Twitter, where thousands of voiced their opinions either for, or against, the skirt-clad woman.
With the Saudi economy in dire straits, and youth unemployment at all-time highs, the ruling elite may have no choice but to consent to some level of modernization.
Image courtesy of the White House