Saudi Arabian officials are calling for the arrest of a female Saudi rapper Asayel Slay whose new music video celebrates women from Mecca — Islam’s holiest city — as “powerful and beautiful.”
The governor of the Middle Eastern city called for the arrest of the musician — who goes by the name of Asayel Slay — as well as others involved in producing the video, in a Twitter post last week.
“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,” said the tweet, translated by the Independent.
“Our respect to other girls but the Mecca girl is sugar candy,” a hijab-wearing Slay raps in the clip, filmed in a cafe with both young girls and boys as backup dancers.
The music video, and the governor’s order, set off a social media firestorm — with some criticizing the musician, of Eritrean origin, for her race.
“Who gave this foreigner the right to speak about Saudi Arabian women in general and specifically about girls of Mecca?” said one tweet, translated by Vox.
“Lol Makkah is where the house of Allah is,” posted another, using a different spelling for the pilgrimage site. “That whole area is sacred. Governed by shariah law. It’s not meant for trashy songs and anything that is considered haram. It’s really not that hard to keep it out of ur lil ‘cute’ songs.”
Meanwhile, others blasted the Saudi government for inviting international female performers to the country — but shunning one of their own and calling for her arrest.
Nicki Minaj was invited to headline a July concert in the country, but pulled out “to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression.”
“Same country that invites foreign rappers wants to lock up their own for doing a patriotic rap song?” one supporter posted. “Being black makes matters more complicated for her too but I have nothing but admiration for #AsayelSlay and #GirlFromMecca.”
“Very sad,” another wrote. “#AsayelSlay is making music & living life positively. Now she’s in trouble with Saudi police? That’s crazy! Especially when international artist perform in that country continuously. Yes, Devilish & Pathetic!”