Saudi officials are calling for the arrest of Asayel Slay, a female Saudi Arabian rapper that released a music video, bint Mecca, which praised women from the holy city of Mecca as powerful and beautiful. In 2018, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman called for progressive reforms, however it is evident that this was merely a show for the international community. Activists in Saudi Arabia claim that repression is becoming worse and freedom of expression is non-existent within the Kingdom.
The YouTube rap video that Asayel released is about Islam’s holiest site, Mecca, where millions of Muslims go on Hajj ever year. The video praises women from this sacred city and depicts men and women dancing in a café. The video became widely popular on social media, angering the governor of Mecca Khaled al-Faisal, who believes that the video insults the customs of Mecca. Asayel’s YouTube account was suspended, and her video was deleted from Facebook. The international community is shocked by the Kingdom’s harsh reaction to the innocent video, especially considering that it contained no nudity, pornographic scenes, obscene language, or depictions of drugs.
Saudi Arabia does not have a concrete reason to imprison this young female rapper. It is evident that the intention of imprisonment is to suppress female voices through acts of violence and intimidation. Saudi Arabia needs to stop viewing acts of feminism as extremism and rebellion against the government. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is advertising a false modern image of his country to the international community, while wrongfully imprisoning activists on his own soil. ACHRS warns the international community not to be deceived by such shows of Saudi modernization, while people continue to be intimidated on Saudi soil and its embassies abroad. The international community cannot forget the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington post journalist, at the hands of Saudi embassy officials.
It is evident that the Saudi crown prince is seeking Western support, especially from the United States, who often turns a blind eye to the Kingdom’s human rights violations for its own benefit. The United States has a close relationship with the Kingdom, providing funding and stationing its military troops on Saudi soil. Saudi Arabia is portraying a false image of modernity to appeal to Western supporters, while continuing to violate the rights of its own citizens. However, the international community should not be fooled and should not support a nation with such stark human rights abuses.