Saudi police arrest two over 'free hugs'

Men were waving banners marked "Free Hug" in English when picked up by police in Riyadh.

    The religious police ensures compliance with the kingdom's interpretation of Islamic morality [AFP]
    The religious police ensures compliance with the kingdom's interpretation of Islamic morality [AFP]

    Saudi religious police arrested two young men offering a "free hug" to passers-by in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom's capital, local media reported.

    The arrests were made in the main Tahlia Street where the two men were waving banners marked "Free Hug" in English, according to news website Sabq.org.

    Free Hugs Campaign is a movement for individuals to offer hugs to strangers in public places, especially in big cities, "to brighten up their lives".

    The initiative prompted surprise and controversy in Saudi society.

    "It's a free hug, not a free drug for God's sake!" wrote one Tweeter in support of the campaign.

    However, another user slammed the move. "Today it's one hug, tomorrow it's a free kiss, and the next day it'll be free sex!"

    The religious police, or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, is charged with ensuring compliance with the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic morality.

    But it is often accused of abuses.

    Religious police ensure women obey Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers, implement a ban on public entertainment and force all businesses to close for prayers five times a day.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.