RIYADH: A Saudi actor has been arrested in a shopping mall in Riyadh for mingling with unrelated women.
Actor Abdul Aziz Al Kassar who resides in Kuwait said he had not expected the ‘overwhelming’ welcome that caused a ruckus.
The actor, who lives in Kuwait, was arrested by members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the religious police, as he was being mobbed by several women who were taking pictures and selfies with him.
Al Kassar was accused of upsetting public order and mixing with women unrelated to him and abusing social media.
However, defending himself, Al Kassar told a private television station, Gulf Rotana, that he had arrived in Saudi Arabia for work reasons and had not expected to find so many people waiting for him.
“I asked my followers on Snapchat about the best mall to visit and they recommended Al Nakheel, so I took up their suggestion and said on social media that I was going there on Friday,” he said.
“I want to clarify that the presence of young women at the mall was not something under my control,” he added.
The actor continued, “When I stepped in, several fans came over and surrounded me until someone came over and pulled me aside into a room that I learned was reserved for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice inside the mall. I understood that the man who pulled me was a member of the commission and I did not resist him out of my respect for the commission,” he said, according to Saudi news site Al Marsad.
Al Kassar was later released on bail and said that mall officials should have warned him about the presence of a large number of his fans.
“They did not tell me to stay away and that not meeting them was better,” he said. “They initially took away my mobile, but returned it to me [later].”
The actor is now waiting in Saudi Arabia for the outcome of the investigation being carried out by prosecution, which has accused him of exploiting social media to meet women and take pictures with them which is a brazen violation of Saudi rules.