Saudi teenage social media star arrested for flirting
A teenager from Saudi Arabia is facing up to three years in jail after being accused of "unethical behaviour" after making a humorous, flirty video with a woman in the US.
The teenager known as 'Abu Sin' - an Arabic nickname referring to his crooked teeth - rose to online fame after posting videos of himself trying to woo 21-year-old vlogger Christina Crockett.
In the videos posted by the pair, they attempt to communicate despite not speaking each other's languages. In one instance Abu Sin - who is said by authorities to be 19 despite looking much younger - repeatedly tells crockett "I love you", and in another video asks the vlogger to remove her top.
Despite the clear language barrier, the pair attracted around 6.5 million views on live-streaming video site YouNow - many of which were from the Middle East.
"Because we couldn't really communicate that we would just do funny things like dancing and stuff, he would put on some funny music and we would dance around and be funny," Crockett said in a video posted in reaction to the arrest.
It was the sudden rise to fame, however, that would eventually lead to the vlogger's arrest while he was filming another clip in Riyadh.
According to Saudi police, the "negative attention" attracted by Abu Sin's "enticing videos" had contravened the kingdom's ultra-conservative laws regulating public morality.
A spokesman for Riyadh's police force, Col. Fawaz al-Mayman, told the Saudi Gazette that the 19-year-old was apprehended on Sunday following complaints from Saudi viewers.
|Christina Crockett teaches Abu Sin English [YouTube/ Christina Crockett]|
Due to the puritanical interpretation of Islam advocated by the kingdom's ruling family, interactions between unrelated men and women are rare. In public, men and women do not mix and gatherings are gender-segregated.
Many Saudis were also embarressed by the seemingly "negative" attention it brought the country.
The arrest has lead to many of Abu Sin's online pals to urge Crockett to speak out.
"Obviously, I think this whole situation is totally crazy and unfair, but I don't feel I should be getting any hate for this because I have no control over it," Crockett said in a video entitled 'My Response'.
"It's not my fault that it went viral. It's not my fault that he got this fame from it or that I got it. Neither of us asked for it."
The incident has provoked mixed reactions within Saudi Arabia, with some supporting the legal action and others saying that the teen should be promoted further.
"One thing that raises serious concerns in the Col. Al-Mayman quotes, which the Saudi Gazette carried, was where he implied that 'Abu Sin' was arrested based on demands of public opinion," read an editorial in Saudi daily The Arab News.
"If this is the case, then let it be known that this published opinion believes Abu Sin should be released… and given his own television show!"