Saudi girl performs song wearing red lipstick and without a hijab, provokes social media backlash

Some on social media condemn the young singer as "immodest" others praise performance of "innocent child."

September 28, 2014 13:27
2 minute read.
Saudi performer

Saudi performer causes stir by wearing lipstick‏. (photo credit: ARAB SOCIAL MEDIA)


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A 12-year-old Saudi girl who performed on stage wearing red lipstick and without a hijab has provoked a fierce debate among Saudis on Twitter over the past week.

Jinna Al-Shammari was one of a group of children who performed a National Day song on September 23 in front of a male audience, including the Saudi Education Minister Prince Khalid Al-Faisal Al Saud. For the performance in the northwestern city of Ha’il, Al-Shammari wore a floor-length green robe, light makeup including lipstick, and had her hair down and uncovered.

The performance unleashed a storm on Twitter, with Saudi users of the social network creating a special hashtag— Al-Shammari’s name in Arabic — to express their views.

Some Saudis have accused al-Shammari of immodesty, while her supporters say she is just an innocent child who should be left alone.

Among Al-Shammari’s fiercest critics was Dr. Awaz Al-Shihri, a faculty member from Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid University.

Al-Shihri tweeted that fifth and sixth grade students are required to wear the abaya, a loose, robe-like overgarment worn by some Muslim women. He went on to tweet that Al-Shammari’s appearance was immodest and her parents were to blame for the child’s actions.

Other Twitter users said that Al-Shammari ought to have worn a head covering to protect herself from the gaze of the male audience at the National Day concert.

Al-Shammari’s critics prompted a backlash from Twitter users who said those slamming the girl were “weak-minded” and that Al-Shammari was an “innocent child”.

Saudi actor Fayez al-Maliki came out in support of Al-Shammari, saying that he wished her luck.

In response to the criticisms, Al-Shammari’s father issued a statement saying that he would take legal action against those who had accused his daughter of immodesty, saying that “weak-minded” Twitter users had given the impression the child was far older than she really is.

On Saturday, Al-Shammari appeared on the popular "Ya Hala" talk show, known for its discussions of popular topics in Saudi and Arab society. She read out a statement in which she talked about her conversation with Education Minister Prince Al Faisal, saying that the minister had praised her participation in the National Day concert. A video of Al-Shammari’s appearance on "Ya Hala" has been widely circulated on social media.

Saudi Arabia has 2.4 million active Twitter users, the highest number in the Arab world, according to a July survey. The social network is used as a popular platform to express opinions.

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