The authorities in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia announced the punishment of two girls who appeared in a video spread on social media, one of them dancing from a car window and the other filming her.
It appears from the video that it was filmed at the time of a public celebration in the street, which its transmitters say, during the large-scale celebrations of the Saudi National Day on the twenty-first of this month.
Tweeters circulated the video, talking about the “arrest of the two girls,” while the authorities’ statement says that “their identities have been established.” The accusation against them entails a fine and does not carry a penalty of imprisonment.
How did the Saudis react to the news?
The welcome to punish the two girls dominated the comments on social media.
Saudis circulated the two videos, which document what happened, as “outlaws.”
Some of them contented themselves with talking about what the two girls did, as it was in violation of the applicable regulations, and some of them elaborated on what they did and its “impact on Saudi society.”
There are those who believe that what the two girls did is too much to be considered “merely a violation of public taste”, and that their dancing and clothes represent a “heinous and provocative act”, and that accusing them of violating public taste is considered an “exaggerated openness”.
Some commentators want “the two girls to be flogged so that they become an example to others.”
Isn’t all this welcoming of punishment?
On the other hand, those who saw that the two girls did not make a mistake until they succeeded, expressed their astonishment at “this much joy and welcome to the decision of punishment.”
They asked questions either for clarification or in the hope of prompting some to rethink their welcome of sanctions.
Among the most prominent questions asked by the tweeters: Why did all this welcome their punishment? And what harm did they cause?
Some also questioned the equal application of laws to tourists, celebrities and holders of different nationalities, although it was not known whether the two girls were Saudis or not.
Has the status of Saudi women changed?
Why all this anger at two girls who danced in a group celebration in the street, even if it was against the established regulations?
In recent years, the situation of women in Saudi Arabia has witnessed a change, even if it seems to some that it is slow and gradual.
She was allowed to drive after female driving activists were jailed, refusing to keep it male-dominated.
Then, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke on more than one occasion that the head covering and the abaya are not an obligation on Saudi women.
And the dissolution of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, whose members used to flog those who showed part of their leg in a shopping center or a public place, and the General Authority for Entertainment was established, which supervises the organization of recreational activities in the Kingdom.
Recently, Saudi women participated in securing the Hajj season.
These changes appear to be major steps for women, many of whom had no hope of any change, and a success for those who struggled to change the status of Saudi women.
But many, some of them women and many of them men, did not like this change and strongly opposed it.
Some of them do not miss an opportunity to talk on social media about the “disintegration of society” and the “consequences of openness” in every incident.
These are the ones who usually talk about “the harshest punishments”, “deterrence” and “the lesson”, even in what Saudi law considers a “violation” that does not require more than a fine.
In addition, many women, who are demanding more freedoms, are not clear to many of them whether they have actually taken away part of the rights they have been deprived of for years, or whether the distance between decisions and their full implementation on the ground is still long.
List of maintaining public taste
Saudi law defines public taste as “a set of behaviors and etiquette that express the values, principles and identity of society, according to the foundations and components stipulated in the Basic Law of Governance.”
The regulation for maintaining a set of behaviors classified as public taste applies to both men and women who frequent public places.
The law imposes a fine on anyone who violates any of the provisions contained in the regulation, not exceeding five thousand Saudi riyals (about 1,300 US dollars), and the amount of the fine is doubled if the same violation is repeated within a year from the date of its first commission.
Among the Saudis, there are those who ask to expand the list of public taste to include, for example, “pranks and hidden cameras” or even what is described as “trivial songs.”
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