…And Free Hugs For All

22 Nov
This Times of India article prompted me to wonder what Onion-style satire would look like in Saudi Arabia.

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 on Thursday.

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”.

Then I realized that my imagination isn’t powerful enough to conjure up a scenario where “free hugs” are illegal but politically subversive satire isn’t.

The Independent (UK) spoke to Abdulrahman al-Khayyal, one of the brave young men arrested by the Saudi Mutaween (the religious establishment’s fanatical vice squad).

According to the report, he said that “[d]espite [having been forced to sign a pledge of forbearance] he would continue to give out free hugs and he was proud of what he had done. He said he considered it an act of charity.”

Of course, the main reason this story is getting wide coverage is that it sounds slightly ridiculous. But if you doubt that al-Khayyal’s statement is itself an act of courage, you need to check out Human Rights Watch’s chilling Saudi Arabia file.

The United States is a close ally of Saudi Arabia as well as its largest trading partner.


2 Responses to “…And Free Hugs For All”

  1. Leo Anglemyer November 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    I’m curious to find out what blog platform {you

  2. filipegracio November 24, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    Reblogged this on Social Pulses and commented:
    From Will Brown. A place where “free hugs” are an act of rebellion.

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