09/10/2018, 10.39
SAUDI ARABIA
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Jeddah, an Egyptian migrant arrested for having lunch with a woman

The man charged with behaving "indecently" and contrary to morality. The woman also targeted for having been “fed” by her colleague. The web divided between guilty and innocent: according to some, the provision is too strict. Others invoke exemplary punishment for both.

Jeddah (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Saudi authorities have arrested an Egyptian migrant worker, for "indecent" behavior contrary to Muslim morality: the man is in the police's sights, for having lunch in a hotel in the governorate of Jeddah (in photo) in a company of a woman colleague.

According to the Saudi judiciary, the "suspect" appears in a video posted on the net while "having breakfast" with a Saudi woman, with her face veiled in full as tradition dictates. He will have to respond to various charges, including "working in a sector" reserved for Saudi citizens.

From the Ministry of Labor and Social Development they report that the arrested person is of Bahá'í faith [a monotheistic Abrahamic religion, born in Iran] and will be tried in court. A spokesman for Minister Khalid Abal Khail adds that the hotel director will also be indicted for failing to enforce "the guidelines laid down by the law on the use of women".

Behind the arrest the fact that the meal between the two colleagues was immortalized in a video shot by the same immigrant, posted online that immediately  went viral. In a few hours the hashtag "Egyptian man having breakfast with a Saudi woman" received over 55 thousand tweets and has become an element of heated debate among users.

To further fuel the controversy, the fact that the woman in niqab was “fed” by the colleague during breakfast. And, as always happens in these cases, the web world has been divided between guilty and innocent: according to some, the arrest is too strict a measure; others invoke harsh penalties not only against the Egyptian migrant worker, but also the woman for having consented to have lunch with a man.

The ultraconservative Saudi kingdom, an absolute monarchy ruled by a fundamentalist view of Sunni Islam, has introduced a series of reforms in recent months, in the context of the "Vision 2030" program desired by the 32-year-old MBS. One of the central objectives is to promote female employment, taking it from the current 22% to more than 30% by 2030. 

The reforms are not just about the employment sector: last September the abolition of the driving ban (in force since June) was announced for women and the stadium of the capital was opened to the representatives of the fair sex, who could attend national day celebrations and football matches. However, severe limitations still remain and the practice of silencing the voices of those demanding greater rights and freedoms within society continues. In particular, in the last period there have been dozens of arrests and trials against people - even women - suspected of having "ties" with "foreign realities" or of providing financial support to "foreign enemies".

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