A woman detained by Saudi police after appearing in a video wearing a miniskirt has been released without punishment, according to a statement by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information.
The woman, who was detained by Riyadh police, featured in a viral video wearing a miniskirt and a crop top as she strolled through a Saudi city.
She told investigators that the clip was published without her knowledge, according to the statement. The statement added that she was released on Tuesday evening without charge and the prosecutor has closed the case.
Saudi Arabia adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Women are expected to wear loose-fitting clothing, known as an abaya, and Saudi women are required to cover their hair.
The video showed the woman walking along an empty street in the historic town of Ushayqir, according to the police statement.
Ushayqir in Saudi Arabia’s Najd province is the birthplace of Wahhabism, the kingdom’s ultra-conservative school of Islamic thought.
The video stirred heated debate on social media, with many calling for her arrest while others jumped to her defence.
Saudi women’s rights Twitter activist Fatima al-Issa wrote, “If she were Western, they would have praised her waist and her enchanting eyes, but because she’s Saudi they call for her to be tried!”
On Sunday, the kingdom’s religious police said they were monitoring the video and taking “the necessary steps” to address the video depicting the “girl in offensive clothing.”
The religious police, also known as the Haia, have historically worked to ensure people’s adherence to Islamic laws — such as the prohibition of alocohol and drugs, gender segregation and the requirement that women be appropriately covered.
However, their powers were considerably curtailed under directives announced in 2016. The religious police can no longer detain people they identify as breaking the kingdom’s strict standards of moral conduct.
Instead, religious police must report individuals’ “misbehaviours” to the police or drug police.