Stock Assualt physical harassment
Assualt in Asir: It didn’t take long for the governor of the region to publicly denounce the incident Image Credit: i stock

A video clip released over social media went instantaneously viral, most likely due to the unforgettable scenes it contained. The video apparently displayed a rampage on the grounds of a female orphanage in the city of Khamis Mushayt in the hills of Asir region.

It showed Saudi males chasing and cornering girls. One scene showed a screaming girl being dragged across a lawn.

It was indeed heinous and almost instantly went viral on social media with the vast majority of the Saudi public expressing their condemnation and demand for justice.

It didn’t take long for the governor of the region to publicly denounce the incident. He ordered the setting up of a high-profile committee to probe the online video and refer the case to the competent authorities, according to the Saudi Press Agency. The emir also instructed that the investigation must include all parties involved in the incident.

Along with the work of the committee, the country’s Public Prosecution Agency also said it has opened an investigation. The Saudi Human Rights Commission announced it has assigned a team to follow up on investigations into the incident and it is working with the relevant authorities.

Verifying the authenticity

A source at the agency said that the Information Crimes Wing has started verifying the authenticity of the video contents in circulation. The source noted that its monitoring centre checked the information content of the video clips that included a previous incident that happened at the orphanage.

“The concerned Public Prosecution wing handled an earlier incident of destroying public money at the orphanage and the case is still under investigation,” the source said while emphasising the inviolability of physically or morally harming the arrested persons.

This incident has been discussed threadbare by the public and it has enraged people. Scenes of men publicly chasing women with intent to cause harm were previously unheard of. In a country where modesty has reigned for so long, such an act was much more than bizarre in the eyes of the people.

The fact that orphan women and girls were on the receiving end also added to the condemnation, as the place and treatment of orphans are revered in Islam.

Maha, a cafe owner in Jeddah said that “it was disgusting … morally disgusting … to see grown men chasing defenceless women and terrorising them both physically and mentally. The perpetrators of this criminal deed must be publicly identified and censured.”

Ismail was somewhat guarded in telling me that he could not base any decision until the investigations were fully carried out.

Against the teachings of Islam

He did add however that, “Islam teaches us that men have to honour and take care of women. To be kind and generous as our Prophet used to be. Not to raise and strike with violence against them and especially against women." Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, ‘The best house is the house in which orphans are well-treated.’ Don’t these officials realise that? Were they not taught such lessons growing up?”

Hussein, retired and always willing to throw in his comments, stated that he was glad that justice will be done. “So much progress has happened in recent times and especially in the field of women’s rights that I have no doubt that the government will come down hard on the guilty. Women across the country today are empowered and they will undoubtedly follow the findings of the investigation with great interest.”

Indeed, not just the women but most citizens would welcome the findings and subsequent actions of the investigation and the rectification of all wrong in order to put the sordid event behind.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena