Abdulrahman al-Khayyal (21) decided to offer ‘free hugs’ in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, and was soon arrested by the state’s religious police.
Inspired by the viral ‘free hugs’ campaign posted on YouTube, Abdulrahman, along with a friend, went out onto the streets of Tahiya carrying a sign saying ‘free hugs’.
However the two men were arrested and their ‘free hugs’ banners seized.
Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrested the two men in Riyadh for violating local laws and engaging in “exotic practices”. This group enforce strict Islamic dress codes and dietary rules.
Under their ruling they have enforced a number of rules;
– Preventing women driving
– Stop unrelated men and women socialising with each other,
– Preventing any homosexual activity and prostitution.
They have come under heavy criticism in the past. In March 2002, when they prevented schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in Mecca because they were not wearing headscarves and abayas (black robes) and accompanied by a male guardian. Fifteen girls died and 50 were injured as a result.
The two men were then made to sign a pledge that they would not go out again.
Despite this, al-Khayyal told The Independent that he would continue to give out free hugs and he was proud of what he had done. He said he considered it an act of charity.
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