A 21-year-old woman was allegedly shot and killed by her brother while commuting to university early on Monday, local Saudi news have reported, in a case that has shed light on the country’s culture of honour killings and sparked a debate about violence against women in the kingdom.
Local reports stated that the woman, identified as Nada Al-Qahtani, was shot by her brother while travelling on a bus to university in the Eastern Province of Dammam. Two other women and the driver were injured in the attack.
In what appeared to be regret over the shooting, Nada was rushed to hospital by her brother, but doctors were unable to save her local reports said. Nada was buried on Wednesday, Saudi daily Okaz said.
“On Tuesday, security forces arrested the man who shot at a vehicle in the Fakhriya district, killing one woman and injuring two citizens and the driver who is of Indian nationality,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
“The case has been referred to the public prosecution,” the report added.
Numerous local reports, which could not be independently verified, suggested that Nada was target of an honour killing. It was unclear what her brother had accused her of.
The incident sparked outrage on social media platforms this week as the Arabic hashtag #Nada_AlQahtani quickly gaining traction.
Saudi activist Amal Al-Shahrani posted a video responding to news of the incident, in which she slammed the culture of honour killings and violence against women.
“I tried to contain myself as much as possible, but I could not with the increase in honour killings and violence [against women],” Shahrani said.
She announced solidarity with victims of abuse and directed her anger at a society “that allows people who commit crimes against women in the name of honour”.
Others slammed the “barbaric” and senseless killing.
“The brother [who is] a scruffy hooligan kills his sister in cold blood and steals her life [must be punished] even if waived by his family,” tweeted Halima Muzaffar.
“If the murder escapes justice, then someone else will dare to spill blood. Only punishing these criminals will protect the rule of law,” tweeted Abdulrahman Allahim.
“The story repeats itself. We must take away weapons from the hands of tribes and ban them from possession! The most important thing is that the murder is punished in front of everyone!” tweeted Souad Al-Shammary.
Last year, an alleged attempted “honour killing” of Saudi citizen Rahaf Mohammed was thwarted after the teenager’s pleas for help received international media attention, enabling her to escape the kingdom.
In 2008, a Saudi woman was killed by her father after she was caught “chatting” with a man on Facebook. The killing garnered public attention after a Saudi cleric made reference to the case while criticising the social media platform for the strife it caused.