Egyptian TikToker arrested in Saudi Arabia for alleged lesbian undertones in recent video

Tala Safwan says her clip was taken out of context to cause scandal

Saudi police arrest men following ‘gay wedding’ video in 2018

A popular Egyptian Tiktoker has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for a video that allegedly has sexually suggestive content with “lesbian undertones”.

Tala Safwan is a young social media influencer with five million followers on TikTok and around 800,000 subscribers on YouTube.

In a recent clip uploaded on YouTube, Ms Safwan invited a female friend to her house. Her subsequent words, where she reportedly says “no one will hear her scream” as “everyone will be asleep”, has been seen as sexually suggestive by some, and led to widespread outrage in the conservative country.

Soon, netizens trended a hashtag that translates to “Tala offends society” and demanded her arrest.

The Riyadh police arrested Ms Safwan on 25 July after the campaign against her gained momentum, describing her as a local resident “who appeared in a broadcast talking to another woman with sexual content and suggestiveness that could have a negative impact on public morality”.

The police did not name Ms Safwan in their announcement but included the video in question with her and her friend’s faces blurred.

Ms Safwan has denied that her video had any sexual subtext and said it had been misunderstood.

She alleged that only a part of the video was shared on social and it was taken out of context with the intention to cause a scandal.

Tala Safwan has five million followers on TikTok and around 800,000 subscribers on YouTube

The Egyptian influencer based in Saudi creates content directed at teenagers and young audiences in the strictly conservative kingdom.

Like several social media creators in the world, Ms Safwan makes humorous videos on topics of relationships, her life and issues sent by her followers.

Saudi Arabia has no laws regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. But sexual relations outside marriage, including homosexuality, can be punishable by flogging or death.

The incident is the latest to reflect the kingdom’s conservative views on LGBT+ matters, which is considered taboo in Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, the Saudi media regulator demanded that YouTube remove offensive advertisements posted on the platform.

The platform continues “broadcast of content that is contrary to Islamic and societal values and principles, as well as the Kingdom’s media content regulations and YouTube Platform Policy”, the statement by Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) and Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said.

In June, authorities in Saudi Arabia seized rainbow-themed children’s items from shops as they claimed that the colours encourage homosexuality. This followed Saudi Arabia’s ban on films that depict, or refer to, gay people.

Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year-long ban on all cinemas in late 2017, as part of an effort to modernise the country in a project headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But, while its laws on cinemas have been loosened in general, the kingdom has not been showing a number of newly-released popular films, like Doctor Strange in the Muliverse of Madness, over its fears that they “promote homosexuality”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in