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This Saudi Man Was Arrested For Giving Free Hugs

A Saudi man was arrested by the religious police on Wednesday after he was spotted walking in a major street in the capital Riyadh with a placard saying “Free Hugs.”

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Abdulrahman al-Khayyal posted a tweet this afternoon saying he would like to give free hugs in Tahliya, a major street lined with restaurants and shops on both sides.

He made the placards and hit the street with a friend

Few hours later, local news site Sabq reported that the religious police arrested the two guys. The site said that the placards were confiscated. Al-Khayyal said on Twitter that they were released after signing a pledge not to repeat the act.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy where Sharia law is applied. The feared religious police patrol streets to ensure that Islamic norms are upheld. "Exotic practices," as Sabq described the free hugs, are not tolerated.

Al-Khayyal and his friend were apparently inspired by a man named Bandar al-Suwaid who posted a video of himself giving free hugs at the same location on Tuesday. That video quickly went viral, racking up more than 700,000 views in less than 24 hours.

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