Saudi Arabia’s morality police have arrested men at a birthday party for “loud music and inappropriate dancing,” according to state-linked media reports.
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice raided a property in the central Saudi city of Buraydah on Saturday evening, according to the Ayn al-Youm news website.
The detained men were found in a “compromising situation in their dance and shameful movements” an official said. A birthday cake and candles were also discovered in the residence.
Even more worrying for the official were the men’s untraditional hairstyles and dress, which he urged parents to monitor as they can apparently “lead to immorality and even homosexuality”.
Many Saudis were quick to take to social media to ridicule the arrests and point out that the men were not partying with women or drinking alcohol, both offences in the Middle Eastern country.
Others shared pictures of sword dances, such as the one Prince Charles took part in this month with other royals, but hardliners claimed that this form of dancing was "masculine" and therefore socially acceptable.
Burayadah, the capital of Qassim province, is home to ultraconservative clerics who practise Wahhabism, a strict interpretation of Islam.
These clerics view Western music and birthday celebrations as sinful and un-Islamic.
The morality police are empowered to enforce dress codes and Islamic practices to ensure Western influences are not adopted by Saudi citizens.
King Salman, the country’s new monarch, has recently appointed Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Sanad as head of the religious police, relieving his more reformist predecessor, Sheikh Abdullatif al-Sheikh, of his post.
No details have been released about how many men were arrested or their ages.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies