A young woman seen in a viral video wearing a miniskirt in public who was arrested by police in Riyadh on Tuesday has been released, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information said in a statement on Wednesday, according to a report by CNN. The statement went on to say that all charges against the young woman have been dropped and the case, which Riyadh police had turned over to the national prosecutor, has been closed.
The woman, who has not been identified, reportedly told authorities that the video was posted online without her knowledge. It showed her walking at a historic site in Ushaiager, a village north of Riyadh, and in Najd, a desert region that’s home to many of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative tribes and families, wearing only a miniskirt and a crop top that exposed a sliver of her mid-riff. She also was not wearing a veil on her head, allowing her her hair to be exposed. According to Saudi dress code, which is informed by a strict interpretation of Islamic law, women are expected to wear full body coverings called abayas and hijabs to cover up their hair.
هذي أسمها مودل خلود بالقرية التراثية في مدينة أشيقر بالسعودية ، بعض الناس تشوفه (حياة طبيعية) والبعض الآخر يشوفه (عهر، وفجور) …!! pic.twitter.com/ObqEo8dKGN
The video prompted a huge backlash on social media after it surfaced over the weekend. Many called for the young woman to be arrested, but some defended her and pointed out that U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump, during a recent state visit to the kingdom, declined to adhere to the dress code. Riyadh police responded on Tuesday by arresting the woman for wearing “immodest clothes.” Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia, which is the only country in the world the prohibits women from driving motor vehicles was elected to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The move raised eyebrows given the kingdom’s treatment of women. Its government leaders have made some recent progress toward equality by relaxing some guardianship laws in June and last week the education ministry announced it would allow girls sports in public schools.