A woman in Saudi Arabia has been arrested for stepping out without an abaya or a long robe worn by Muslim women. She had announced her plan on Twitter and shared her photos in a jacket and dress on a Riyadh street in November, reported The Guardian. Her photos on social media prompted many to demand her execution for the ‘blasphemy’.
Malak al-Shehri was arrested after a formal complaint was filed against her with the religious police of the country. Police spokesperson Colonel Fawaz al-Maiman said she also spoke “openly about prohibited relations with [non-related] men”, reported local Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sharq. He said she was arrested for “violations of general morals”.
The country imposes several restrictions on its women, including a strict dress code, rules about social conduct and discrimination in opportunities, among others. Women are required to cover their body when stepping out in public. They are not allowed to interact with men who are not related to them, neither are they permitted to learn simple life skills such as driving.
However, the liberal sections in the country seem hopeful about relaxations of certain rules with Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal recently supporting women demanding their right to drive. “Stop the debate,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s time for women to drive.”