Vogue cover featuring young Saudi princess Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud has initiated a hot debate online. Princess was seen in a red ragtop, presenting an unconventional image of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Following a conservative version of Islam, the kingdom has been repeatedly criticized for their discriminatory attitude towards women. Considering them secondary citizens with little to no participation in state processes and societal structure on a bigger sphere, the women were even denied their basic right to vote for decades.
After King Abdullah granted them the right to vote in 2015, Saudi Arabia initiated a journey towards modernization, which was fuelled by present Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Shot in a desert outside Jeddah, Saudi princess is seen in an elegantly flowing white gown, wearing leather gloves and high-heels, sitting in the driving seat on Vogue’s June edition – when KSA plans to lift the ban on woman driving formally.
“In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change. For many, it’s all they have known. Personally, I support these changes with great enthusiasm” – Princess said.
However, right before lifting the ban and issuance of latest empowering Vogue edition, series of arrests of women right’s activists have cast doubts on Kingdom’s approach towards modernization and current reforms.
Just a month before the lifting the driving ban, human rights organizations across the world voice their concerns over Kingdom’s detention of women right’s activists.
On one hand, Princess Hayfa said she supports these changes with a passion, unexplained arrests are presenting a contradictory picture of the situation.
“It is shocking that Saudi Arabia is detaining prominent women’s rights defenders – the real champions behind the lifting of the driving ban – just before they allow all women the right to drive” – said Human Rights Watch’s Rothna Begum while talking to Aljazeera.
The contradiction and concerns affiliated with the cover vs reality is the reason the vogue cover received intense backlash. Here is how the internet community responded:
What a shameful insensitive cover! Did you know that KSA put women rights activists in jail last week? So HRH the princess can drive a car, it's okay, everything is cool in the kingdom, and let @LoujainHathloul and friends burn in hell? Shame on you Vogue Arabia and Mr. Arnaut!
— Sanaa (@Sanaalkhoury) May 30, 2018
Hey @VogueArabia what about the 10 Saudi activists who spoke out on this very issue of women’s rights – and are now being held incommunicado with no lawyer? No mention of them? Sign the petition to the @UN https://t.co/YEl5qH97lo
— Peter (@pjluntz) May 31, 2018
Shame on you , there are three women activities in the prison, for no reasons
— Ali Mohammed (@AliMoha47715819) May 31, 2018
Is Vogue Arabia celebrating the wrong Saudi women?
While the Saudi women who campaigned for the driving ban could face the death penalty, this Saudi Princess is on the magazine cover and being celebrated as "trailblazing" https://t.co/hsfW4dYdrJ
— Osha Mahmoud (@Osha001) May 31, 2018
When I said Vogue Arabia needs to feature more ethnic Arabs on their covers – this is not what I meant. pic.twitter.com/djUbhDKBi3
— Rowaida Abdelaziz (@Rowaida_Abdel) May 31, 2018
We wish that @VogueAlArabiya would dare to write a report with a title and photo of the activists on the cover, who have been jailed because of their demands of driving a car, and for their other demands of women rights too.#FreeSaudiActivists #FreeSaudiWomen @voguemagazine https://t.co/HdHdoxLAgv
— Amani AlEssa (@AmaniAuz) May 30, 2018
You've got to be kidding me. A princess graces the cover of next month's Vogue Arabia while @azizayousef @Saudiwoman @LoujainHathloul and other activist women who have worked tirelessly to lift driving ban languish in jail pic.twitter.com/gEmXh8sTHL
— Bethan McKernan (@mck_beth) May 31, 2018
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