2 Men Arrested For Giving ‘Free Hugs’ In Saudi Arabia


Two men were arrested by religious state police in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh for giving “free hugs” to strangers Wednesday.

The country’s ultra-conservative police, tasked with enforcing the government’s Sharia law, arrested the duo for engaging in “exotic practices” and seized their “free hugs” banner, according to a Huffington Post translation of Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat.

One of the arrested, Abdulrahman al-Khayyal, posted a tweet earlier that day saying he would like to give free hugs in Tahliya, a bustling shopping street. He then took to the streets with a friend and a placard that read “free hugs,” the Independent reported. (The action is part of a social movement in which strangers offer others public embraces.)

After signing a pledge promising not to repeat the act, the two men were released. However, al-Khayyal told the Independent he would continue to give out free hugs because he saw it as an act of charity.

The outlet points out that the 21-year-old may have been inspired by a viral YouTube video (see below) that shows a man named Bandar al-Suwaid giving free hugs to young men in the same area the day before.

As the Agence France-Presse notes, not everyone was moved by the concept: “Today it’s one hug, tomorrow it’s a free kiss, and the next day it’ll be free sex!” one person tweeted.