Saudi actor arrested for causing frenzy among female fans at shopping mall
Abdul Aziz Al Kassar had sent a message to followers on Snapchat asking for recommendations on shopping locations, only to be greeted by fans asking for selfies
Published 29/10/2015 | 08:57
A Saudi actor has been arrested for disturbing public order after he was mobbed by a group of adoring female fans wanting to take selfies with him at a shopping mall in Riyadh.
Abdul Aziz Al Kassar, who lives in Kuwait and was visiting Saudi Arabia for work, had sent a message to his followers on Snapchat, the online messaging service, asking for recommendations on the best place to go shopping in the Saudi capital.
Upon his arrival at Al Nakheel mall on Friday evening, he found several young women waiting and asking to take selfies with him.
He was arrested by the country's religious police, formally known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, for mixing with women unrelated to him and abusing social media, but later released on bail.
"I did not expect to find so many people waiting for me. I want to clarify that the presence of young women at the mall was not something under my control," he told Saudi news site Al Marsad.
"When I stepped in, several fans came over and surrounded me until someone came over and pulled me aside into a room that I learned was reserved for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice inside the mall."
A YouTube video shot on a mobile phone showed a white robe-clad member of the religious police dragging him from the group of fans.
Mr Kassar must now await the decision of Saudi prosecutors on whether he used social media to meet women and took pictures with them in the shopping mall in breach of the law.
Last year, Saudi Arabia's religious police beat up a British expat living in the country after he used a women-only cash till with his wife at a local supermarket, accusing him of breaking strict policies on sex segregation.
Saudi Arabia also has strict laws requiring all women to have male guardians, and banning females from driving.
The late King Abdullah had taken steps to limit the powers of the religious police, but reformists fear the hardline insitution may be regaining its former strength under the current King Salman.