Saturday, July 22, 2017

Will Rihanna bring change to Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world?

This week a model named Khulood was arrested for wearing a short skirt and crop top in the heritage village of Ushaiger in Saudi Arabia.
She was charged with “disrespecting and violating the teachings of Islam” for her Western feminine apparel. She had posted a video to social media that caused outrage among conservative Muslims in the country.
Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to wear “conservative” loose-fitting cloaks known as abayas, the Daily Mail reported. Most also cover their hair and face with a black veil.
The incident got me thinking about pop singer Rihanna who is dating a Saudi businessman, Hassan Jameel, and is contemplating marriage, if the tabloids are to be believed.
Fashion icon, humanitarian and sexy celebrity Rihanna doesn’t seem like the type who’d put up with Saudi Arabia’s patriarchal, second-class treatment of women.
Rihanna’s image is the antithesis of Islamic beliefs in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East.
If Rihanna does marry Jameel, I wonder if she’ll effectively live in exile from his home country. After all, her postings on social media alone could get her arrested in Saudi Arabia. But then again, it’s well known that the rich and powerful in Saudi Arabia aren’t subject to the same rules as common folk.
A more interesting possibility is that Rihanna could use her high profile to drive change in the country.
This is all very premature, but it’s still interesting to consider.

Related articles: 

After Saudi skirt woman's brief arrest, many lament double standard (Reuters; July 19, 2017)

Woman who sparked outrage by walking through Saudi village in a T-shirt and short skirt is arrested by police (Daily Mail; July 18, 2017)

Saudi Arabia investigates video of woman in miniskirt (BBC; July 17, 2017)

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