Woman Faces Prison Sentence for Hugging Man on Stage

Saudi Arabia: An unnamed Saudi Arabian woman who was wearing a niqab, a headdress that shows only the eyes, has been arrested after running on stage to hug a male singer during a concert, according to reports. She is facing up to two years in prison and a fine equivalent to $27,000 for hugging Iraqi singer and composer Majid Al Mohandis. Videos posted online showed her holding on to Mr Mohandis while security staff tried to pull her off him. The Iraqi-born singer, who also has Saudi citizenship, continued to perform after the incident.

Al-Madina newspaper reported Tuesday the woman, whose name and age weren’t given, was arrested earlier this month at a festival when Majid Al Mohandis, an Iraqi-born singer with Saudi citizenship, was performing his solo act. The paper reports the woman acknowledges hugging Almohandis but argues she was incited to do so.

https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/1017919414107279362

Saudi Arabia remains one of the very few countries in the world not to accept the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Social events are largely predicated on the separation of men and women; the mixing of non-kin men and women at parties or the like is extremely rare and limited to some of the modernist Western-educated families. Women who are seen socializing with a man who is not a relative, can be harassed by the mutaween, even charged with committing adultery, fornication or prostitution.

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She was charged with breaking local laws against “harassment,” but there’s almost certainly another reason for the criminal charges. The anti-harassment law that came into effect last month is obviously based on Sharia principles:

  • Whilst harassment can be said to have long been unlawful under Islamic Sharia principles in the Kingdom (which adopts the Hanbali school of Islamic Sharia law), the new law strengthens the position regarding harassment and sets out clear penalties for violation of its provisions.
  • The law aims to protect an individual's dignity, privacy and personal freedom in accordance with Islamic Sharia rules and regulations.

In other countries, the woman would certainly have been lightly punished for harassing the singer on the scene. However, in Saudi Arabia, she faces prison time. Two years in prison for hugging the favorite singer is absolutely not an appropriate sentence.

Photo Credits: Cloudfront

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