A black Saudi female rapper from Mecca who released a song and video praising the women in her city could be in trouble after officials ordered for her arrest, claiming the song “offends the customs and traditions” of the holy city.
Titled Bint Mecca (Girl from Mecca), the song was released by city native, Ayasel Slay, Al Jazeera reports. In the video, which was shared on her YouTube channel but has since been deleted, Slay raps about how proud she is to be a native of the city and also showers praises on her fellow Mecca women.
“A Mecca girl is all you need/ Don’t upset her, she will hurt you,” she raps in the video which was shot in a café.
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“With her, you can complete the Sunna [get married]/ Your life with her will become Paradise.”
The song, however, did not sit down well with the city authorities as the governor ordered for her arrest as well as those who shot the video via a Tweet on Thursday.
“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,” the Tweet read.
Scores of people on social media also reacted angrily to the song by denouncing Slay and making racist remarks about her African origin with the hashtag #You_Are_Not_Mecca’s_Girls, Al Jazeera further reports.
“Enough of this depravity. I hope the punishment for this African woman will be imprisonment then deporting her back to her country,” a user said.
Another said: “Immediate deportation is the answer, in addition to holding every foreigner who claims to be from Mecca accountable.”
“Including all Somalis living here,” a reply said.
Others, however, called out the racially discriminatory posts and pointed out the authorities’ double standards.
“[Some] Saudis are saying that the singer is black and can’t be from Mecca, as if Mecca is known for its blond-haired and blue-eyed women,” a user said.
“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?,” another user also said.
According to the Washington Post, though the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is predominantly white, Mecca and other cities along its coast are home to immigrants from the Muslim areas of East Africa.
“The consequences are not equaling the crime, because there is no crime there,” Amani Al-Ahmadi, a Saudi activist told The Post. “It’s obviously targeted against a woman who they feel doesn’t represent what Saudi and Mecca should be.”
Al-Ahmadi added that calls for Slay’s arrest are racially motivated and hypocritical.
“It was very modest in nature. If anything, it was just talking about how strong women are in the city compared to others,” she said.
“If you changed that city to any other city, you wouldn’t even know the difference. If she wasn’t a woman of color, they wouldn’t have seen her as a minority to target.”
Saudi Arabia has largely been criticized for its repression towards female rights. Over the past few years, however, the kingdom has made strides towards granting women some freedom – including the right to drive as well as visit cinemas.