Saudi police arrest 2 over 'free hugs'

Published: November 21, 2013


RIYADH: 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 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

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”.

The initiative prompted surprise and controversy in Saudi society.
“It’s a free hug, not a free drug for God’s sake!” wrote one Tweeter in support of the campaign.

However, another user slammed the move. “Today it’s one hug, tomorrow it’s a free kiss, and the next day it’ll be free sex!”

The religious police, or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, is charged with ensuring compliance with the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic morality.

But it is often accused of abuses.

Religious police ensure women obey Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers, implement a ban on public entertainment and force all businesses to close for prayers five times a day.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • ugu
    Nov 21, 2013 - 8:25PM

    saudi land of retards and stone age fools.


  • Last Word
    Nov 21, 2013 - 9:50PM

    Saudis distribute millions to Pak madrassas and militant organisations generating hatred and violence in Pakistan whereas they cannot tolerate people hugging in their own country.


  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 21, 2013 - 10:21PM

    It is well known that the Saudi Princes act one way in the Saudi public arena, but when overseas, and particularly in private, behave the way Europeans do. Double standards I’m afraid.


  • piddler
    Nov 21, 2013 - 10:39PM

    Add overcompensation for latent tendencies to storage etc etc


  • J T
    Nov 21, 2013 - 11:04PM

    These guys are painfully predictable in their regressiveness.


  • Traveller
    Nov 22, 2013 - 9:35AM

    ‘Free Hug’ campaign is a reaction to Western urban lifestyle, imo. Volunteers gather at a busy square where fast walking people are so unconcerned about each other that they don’t even bother looking at other passersby. So this campaign tries to bring them back to ‘life’.
    But in Saudi, where hugging is a social norm to the extent that it might be culturally wrong to do that in a Western society, this campaign makes less sense.
    Activists in Saudi should rather focus on the abuse of foreign workers – both when they hunt people from poor countries and also when Saudis pay ridiculous salaries to the Western citizens.


  • Spectator
    Nov 22, 2013 - 9:39AM

    Saudi Arabia is the most hypocritical society on the planet. The sooner their oil runs out, the faster their mindset will normalize. They have misused their wealth, it will not take long for them to realize, what is important, and what is not.


  • Ghostrider
    Nov 22, 2013 - 10:22AM

    Saudi regression of their soceity provide us with real time demostration of life in middle ages.


  • Gratgy
    Nov 22, 2013 - 11:41AM

    Are all hugs in Muslim countries sexual in nature?


  • I am a Khan
    Nov 22, 2013 - 2:21PM

    Nothing wrong in man to man free hug. why did the religious police arrest them? or were they trying to give free hugs to women? in that case their arrest is understandable.


  • Abdul Haseeb
    Nov 22, 2013 - 6:21PM

    Good action ! there’s no need of ”free hugging” , stop this drama


  • oton
    Nov 22, 2013 - 7:15PM

    this shows why ‘muslim world’ is lagging in every aspect! The unending and brainless sanctions and bigotry!


  • Imran
    Nov 22, 2013 - 8:50PM

    Brainless people.


  • Omar
    Nov 23, 2013 - 4:51PM

    I hate the Saudi govt as much as I hate the US.

    They are scum who enjoy oppressing people.


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