An orange jacket over a white top, white trousers, high heel shoes: everyone was looking at the young lady at a shopping mall in Riyadh… Mashael al-Jaloud, the 33-year-old Human Resources Professional, visited the mall in Western Outfit in order to get noticed by the people, intentionally!
The Saudi lady has another identity, as she is also a Human Rights activist! Her recent act to walk through the mall without a customary ‘Abaya’ was part of the protest against hard-line Saudi Clerics, who want women to wear black veils (or Burqa) at public places in the conservative Muslim state.
Mashael al-Jaloud in Riyadh
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had said in 2018 that he was thinking about Women’s Empowerment! During an interview with an American Television Channel, the de facto ruler hinted that the dress code for women might be relaxed, saying that the robe was not mandatory in Islam. However, the Saudi Society, seemingly, has ignored the Crown Prince’s advice.
Revolutionary Mashael stressed that she gave up wearing a Burqa! So, people were looking at her when she visited the mall in a western outfit. Some thought that she might have been a celebrity! Even a lady was heard asking her: “Are you famous? Are you a model?”
Manahel al-Otaibi is another 25-year-old Saudi activist, like Mashael. She has been in Riyadh for the last four months, but does not wear Burqa. “I just want to live the way I want, freely and without restrictions. No one should force me to wear something I don’t want,” stressed Manahel. She was in danger many a times for her activism. However, she staged protests via Social Media. Even, a Saudi royal condemned Manahel on Twitter, describing her a publicity seeker and demanding that she be punished for this ‘provocative’ act.
Meanwhile, the Global Community has showered praises on Mashael, Manahel and other Women’s Rights activists, saying that the trend set by them highlights a bold stance for social liberties by the young Saudis that may outstrip the monarchy’s capacity for change!
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