November 21, 2013 - A man who decided to offer 'free hugs' in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh has been arrested by the state's religious police.
Abdulrahman al-Khayyal went out onto the streets along with a friend carrying a placard saying 'free hugs', apparently inspired by a viral video of a campaign posted on YouTube earlier this week.
In that video Bandr al-Swed was filmed hugging young men, in a three minute clip that racked up over a million views in three days.
However the two men were arrested and their 'free hugs' banners seized, CNN Arabic reported.
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", Al Hayat newspaper said. They 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.
The religious police in Saudi Arabia are tasked with enforcing the government's Sharia law.
They are also known as the Mutaween and empowered to stop unrelated men and women socialising with each other, as well as any homosexual activity and prostitution. They enforce strict Islamic dress codes and dietary rules.
They have come under heavy criticism in the past, most notably 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 free hugs campaign was a big success in a lot of countries except Saudi Arabia. In this specific country the police declared hugs to be too intimate, more of an "exotic activity" and people hugging on the streets is from now on a banned activity.
A Saudi Arabian man was inspired by the free hugs campaign of another Arabic young man Bandr...
All posts and media uploads are expressed opinions of the contributing members and
are not representative of or endorsed by the owners or employees of Disclose.tv.
This site may contain copyrighted material. Members may make such material available
in an effort to advance the awareness and understanding of issues relating to civil rights,
economics, individual rights, international affairs, liberty, science & technology, etc. We
believe this constitutes a "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in
section 107 of the US Copyright Law.