(NYTIMES) - Police in Saudi Arabia arrested a woman on Tuesday (July 18) who appeared in a video posted online in which she wears a miniskirt and crop top, exposing her legs and midriff in violation of the country's strict dress code for women.
The video of the woman, identified online only as Khulood, prompted a debate on social media soon after it was uploaded to Snapchat over the weekend. It was rapidly shared across the internet by people who supported her display and by those who opposed it, resulting in an official investigation.
Police in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, turned her over to the public prosecutor's office, the kingdom's state-run Alekhbariya television reported.
In the short clip, filmed mostly from behind, the woman is shown walking through the ruins of an ancient fort in Ushaiager, a town in Najd province.
In response to calls for the woman's arrest, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice wrote on Twitter on Monday that it had "intercepted a clip of a girl in inappropriate clothing" and had opened an investigation with the "relevant authorities."
Saudi law imposes stringent rules on women's appearance and behaviour. Saudi women are required to wear a black garment, called an abaya, that covers everything but the face, feet and hands. They must also keep their heads covered.
An unnamed spokesman for Riyadh police cited by the Saudi online news site Sabq said the woman had told police that she visited the site in Ushaiager with her legal guardian - a male relative who has the legal authority to control a woman's movements - and that the video had been put online without her knowledge.
The video, and the debate on social media that followed, exposed a rift below the country's tightly policed surface.
Some supporters of the woman in the video posted images of Ivanka and Melania Trump, who during President Donald Trump's state visit to Saudi Arabia in May wore dresses that exposed their legs and did not cover their heads.
Other Saudis condemned the woman not just for flaunting her figure but also for flouting the kingdom's well-known rules.
"She shouldn't be out in a conservative country looking like this, she should respect the laws, or her destiny will be known," wrote one person who shared the video despite those comments.