Angry at being questioned by a religious policeman, a 20-something Saudi Arabian woman beat the crap out of the cop, hitting him repeatedly until he was taken to the hospital.
The woman was walking with an unnamed man in an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz when they were approached by a policeman. He was looking to bust them for illegally socializing, but shortly after he began questioning them as to their identities, the man collapsed. According to the Saudi newspaper Okaz, the woman immediately began punching the policeman, hitting him repeatedly. The onslaught of blows was so severe that he needed to be taken to the hospital for the resulting bruises that covered his body and face.
While we don't usually condone violence, her actions are pretty remarkable - even kind of awesome. Women's rights activists are hailing the beat-down as a triumph for the people, who are "fed up with these religious police." "Now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years," said Wajiha Al-Huwaidar. Nadya Khalife, the Middle East women's rights researcher for the Human Rights Watch, agrees: "there is some sort of change taking place," she told The Media Line. She continued,
"There is clearly a shifting mentality regarding to the male guardianship law and similar issues. More women are speaking out, there are changes within the government, there is a mixed university, the king was photographed with women, they want to allow women to work in the courts and there are changes within the justice ministry. So you can witness some kind of change unfolding but it's not quite clear what's happening and it's not something that's going to happen overnight."
Though "speaking out" is probably the safer, and ultimately more effective, route, the amusement park woman wasn't simply lashing out at the policeman - she was fighting years of restriction and oppression. The religious police were questioning the couple, but really, they were checking up on her. She is the one not allowed in public without a male guardian, she is the one who will be most harshly punished for socializing with a member of the opposite sex, and when her companion was incapacitated, she was the one to stand up to the officer. Although she could face a prison sentence, and even lashing if she is convicted for assaulting the virtue cop, public opinion appears to support her actions. "To see resistance from a woman means a lot," explained Al-Huwaidar. "This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance."
Saudi Woman Beats Up Virtue Cop [The Jerusalem Post]
Saudi Woman Beats Up Virtue Cop After He Stopped Her For Walking With A Man [Daily Mail]
Saudi Woman Attacked Religious 'Virtue Cop' [Fox News]