Saudi authorities have reportedly arrested a suspected cat killer, whose alleged feline killing spree has drawn the outrage of tens of thousands of the kingdom’s social media users.
The country’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said on Wednesday that it was working to apprehend the suspect, who is believed to have shot dead several cats in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Local media reported early on Thursday morning that the suspect had been detained.
Officials in the conservative kingdom strongly condemned the killings, which were purportedly shown in videos posted by the suspect himself to social media.
“The ministry reaffirms that this disgraceful act stands contrary to the teaching of our Islamic faith, which calls for companionship with animals, and stands contrary to the regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the environment ministry said in a statement.
The powerful governor of the holy city of Mecca, Khalid bin Faisal al-Saud, also joined the chorus of condemnation on Twitter, calling for police to arrest the killer.
— نايفكو NAIF (@naifco) 2 августа 2017 г.
In one video, the alleged assailant is seen shooting his rifle at a cat as it drank water from a bowl. The feline is then seen writhing in pain from the shot.
The suspect then turns the camera to himself, showing his face behind Snapchat’s cat face filter, which also altered his voice to a higher-pitch.
He speaks to the camera, mocking people who help cats and saying that the animals had “made his car dirty.” He justifies his killing of the cat by saying that it had saved him “the cost of four car washes.”
Upon seeing the video, Saudi Twitter users unleashed a storm of outrage against the suspect. Writing under the Arabic-language hashtag, “We want the serial cat killer held accountable,” some Saudis called for his imprisonment, while others went as far as saying that he should face the death penalty.
One Twitter user suggested that throwing the suspect into a cage “with a bigger cat” would perhaps be an appropriate punishment.
I would love to throw him into a cage with a tiger #نريد_محاسبه_سفاح_القطط
— A.K (@ahmedkhomais) 2 августа 2017 г.
Under Saudi law, crimes against feral cats do not fall under protections extended to the country’s wildlife. This means that the offender is unlikely to be imprisoned for his actions.
However, it is speculated that the offender will be fined 400,000 Saudi Riyals [$160,660] for his crimes.
Earlier this month, another video originating from Saudi Arabia sparked outrage, showing a man ripping off the head of a pigeon that carried a Qatari identification tag.
The man, who spoke in a Saudi accent, said the acts was an act of revenge against Qatar, which is currently locked in a diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia.