A Saudi man who uploaded video of himself appearing in Satanic guise and calling himself “Beelzebub” faces up to five years in prison after being arrested by the country’s authorities.
The unnamed man uploaded videos to TikTok showing himself wearing black make-up and uttering a nonsensical and blasphemous greeting, while driving a car where loud music was playing on a stereo.
Saudi social media users shared the videos on Twitter.
Legal experts said that under Saudi law, “Beelzebub” (“Iblees” in Arabic) as he called himself, faced five years in jail and a fine of 3 million riyals ($800,000) for insulting religious principles and 24 hours in jail and a fine of 300 riyals ($80) for using a camera while driving.
Some Saudi Twitter users started the Arabic-language hashtag #Free_Beelzebub to call for the man’s release. Other Twitter users also adopted the hashtag to denounce the young man’s actions.
Twitter user Maha Al-Shahrani said: “I fear for future generations who will see this mental degeneracy and disgusting imagery which does not suit my society.”
Saudi Arabia is a highly conservative Islamic society with laws against heresy and blasphemy.
Until a few years ago, religious police enforced a strict moral code, which banned any public display of behaviour deemed contrary to Islam.
Recently Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has carried out social liberalisation, allowing Western pop singers to stage concerts in the kingdom and relaxing gender segregation laws.
This “liberalisation” in social matters has been accompanied by an increase in political repression, with government critics, reformist clerics, and human rights activists being subject to arrest and torture.