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Saudi woman arrested for sharing photo without veil on Twitter

Authorities have made several arrests linked to YouTube videos and social media use
Women queue for a pop concert at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in the Riyadh (AFP)

Police in the Saudi capital said on Monday that they had arrested a woman for taking off her veil in public and posting pictures of her daring action on Twitter.

Police spokesman Fawaz al-Maiman did not name the woman, but several websites identified her as Malak al-Shehri, who triggered a huge backlash on social media after posing without the hijab in a main Riyadh street last month.

Maiman said in a statement that the police in the ultra-conservative kingdom acted in line with their duty to monitor "violations of general morals".

He said the woman posted a tweet of herself standing next to a popular Riyadh cafe but without wearing the Islamic headscarf that is required in Saudi society.

The woman, in her 20s, was taken to prison, he said, and he also accused her of "speaking openly about prohibited relations with (non-related) men".

"Riyadh police stress that the action of this woman violates the laws applied in this country," Maiman said, urging the public to "adhere to the teachings of Islam".

Restrictions on women

The oil-rich desert kingdom has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.

Social media use in Saudi Arabia has exploded in the past few years with many Saudis using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to show what life is really like in the Gulf kingdom. 

The country however is known to have made several arrests linked to YouTube videos and social media use, including of men who filmed themselves giving out “free hugs” in Riyadh.

In September of this year Saudi authorities charged a teenage boy for "unethical behaviour" after appearing on a YouTube video with an American vlogger. 
Nineteen-year-old Abu Sin was sentenced to three years in prison after the authorities claimed the teenage boy was producing videos that were "enticing" and invited "negative attention" from viewers around the world. 
In the video it shows Abu Sin reciting a traditional song in Arabic to American YouTuber Christina Crockett before asking her to marry him at the end of the video.
His arrest was filmed after footage from a live stream showed the teenager being approached by police after officers pulled up behind his car to apprehend him.
The teenager has since been freed on bail after serving more than a week in prison and has not made any YouTube videos since his incarceration.  

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