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Arrest of woman in skirt raises questions over Saudi reforms

It would seem security and judicial officials in Saudi Arabia have little to do.

Otherwise why turn a mini skirt and crop-cut blouse into a national issue and subject the country into international ridicule.

The circus began when a video emerged of a young model called “Khulood” wearing a mini skirt and crop-top blouse walking on an empty street.

Police detained her, opened investigations and later turned the case to the prosecution. The crime: wearing “immodest clothes” in public. 

Other than the person, reportedly boyfriend, who video-taped the scene, there is no evidence of anyone else presence.

That aside, Saudi Arabia laws require women to wear the abaya, a loose fitting dress. It’s mandatory to every female in the kingdom.

ISLAM

The requirement is based on extreme interpretation by Wahabbism, a branch of Islam, of exhortation in the Koran that women should dress modestly in public.

That’s presumably to protect their modesty from prying eyes of men.

Anyone who has carefully watched a woman in the abaya sway knows the dress, especially in a breeze, displays the body curves in ways that would make lecherous minds boil with appetite for what’s supposedly hidden.

Deliberately or inadvertently, “Khulood” displayed some thigh and waist in a fort at Ushayqir Heritage Village, where the founder of Wahhabism was born in the late 18th century, a case of “So what?” Isn’t it a wonder Allah didn’t strike her dead?

DEBATE

Anyway, the video sparked a debate among the Saudis. Some called for her arrest; others praised her “bravery.”

Calls rose for the return of Haia, a mob of religious police that, among other things, wielded clubs to force shopkeeper shatter doors at every player time.

“The writer-philosopher, Wael al-Gassim, summed up the folly. “I thought she had bombed or killed somebody. The story turned out to be about her skirt…” the BBC quoted him saying.

He wondered how reforms spearhead by 31-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured) would succeed in such a climate.

RESTRICTIONS

Of course Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country where women face restrictions based solely on gender. It scores high, though.

Women can’t drive, study certain subject, take certain jobs; undergo certain medical procedure; participate in some sports, until recently vote or seek electoral offices; participate in sports s —school girls will, in some, beginning the coming academic year—ad infinitum: basically anything not approved by males remains out, always backed by clerics in the name of Islam.

It’s a truism societies need rules to ensure individuals co-exist in friendly and productive ways.

However, pre-occupation, fury included, with wear solely based on of gender doesn’t qualify.

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