Angered over a female rapper praising girls from Mecca in her latest album, Saudi Arabia has ordered the arrest of Saudi rapper Asayel Slay. Following the arrest orders, the Facebook account of the rapper has been suspended and video removed from her YouTube account.
Mecca, the birth-place of Prophet Mohammed, is a pilgrimage place for Muslims the world over who undertake a religious trip to the holy city every year during Hajj.
What caused the controversy ?
In the controversial video, shot inside a coffee shop with a few youngsters dancing in the background, Asayel Slay sings the song, called Girl of Mecca (Mecca Girl when translated alternately) praising the girls of Mecca. Donning an ankle-length dress, the rapper wore a headscarf, honouring the cultural and religious belief of the country.
In the song, the video of which was uploaded on YouTube, the females from Mecca were referred as 'powerful and beautiful' before calling them 'sugar candy'. She says in one line: 'Our respect to other girls but the Mecca girl is sugar candy.'
The other lyrics that were part of her song are: "A Mecca girl is all you need/Don't upset her, she will hurt you" and "With her, you can complete the Sunna [get married]/Your life with her will become Paradise."
Recently Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had given the women of his country right to drive. As part of his Vision 2030 program of reform aimed at projecting a modern image of the country on the global platform, the Crown Prince had invited international artists such as Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and BTS, to perform in the country.
Governor of Mecca issues arrest orders for the rapper on Twitter
Displeased over the lyrics used in the song, the Governor of Mecca, Khaled al-Faisal, on the official twitter account ordered the arrest of Asayel Slay and those involved in the video. The official justified his order claiming that Girl of Mecca "offends the customs and traditions of the people of Mecca and contradicts the identity and traditions of its high-ranking children."
In yet another tweet, Mecca regional authorities announced the issuance of arrest orders for Asayel and the video production team. "Prince Khalid bin Faisal of Mecca has ordered the arrest of those responsible for the Bint Mecca rap song, which offends the customs and traditions of the people of Mecca and contradicts the identity and traditions of its esteemed population," read the tweet.
Social media gets divided over the arrest orders
As soon as the news of her arrest order being issued went viral, social media was divided over the verdict. While several hailed the decision to issue the arrest order, many others dissed it while terming the Saudi higher ups as hypocritical. Showing their support for the rapper, her fans started the hashtag #Mecca_Girl_Represents_Me.
"This is so typical of the Saudi government to do - bring western influencers to artwash the regime but attack real Saudi women who try to artistically express their cultural identities," tweeted Amani Al-Ahmadi, a self-described Saudi-American feminist.
"What a contrasting situation ... [the government] invites singers and dancers to the country and no one objected but this girl did this song and now everyone is against her?" wrote another social media user.
Those who did not support the rapper, started ranting their opinions under the hashtag #You_Are_Not_Mecca's_Girls. The hashtag hinted at the African origin of the rapper. "Enough of this depravity. I hope the punishment for this African woman will be imprisonment then deporting her back to her country," tweeted one user.
"Immediate deportation is the answer, in addition to holding every foreigner who claims to be from Mecca accountable," wrote another user.