Over the last few weeks, a new hashtag has begun spreading across Arabic-language social media: "#اقترح_طريقة_لقتل_الشواذ" which translates to "#suggest_a_way_to_kill_the_faggots."
This person suggested they be burned.
This person suggested they be tortured and killed.
The hashtag appeared to have been born after this video was posted online on January 25 with the hashtag "زواج_للشواذ_في_جدة#" which means "faggots'_wedding_ in_ Jeddah":
There was mass outrage on Twitter in Saudi Arabia. Some said it was part of a conspiracy against the country, which is the home of Islam's holiest city, Mecca.
There were demands for retribution.
A spokesman for police in the region issued a denial that the event happened on his turf, reportedly saying, "There is no faggots' wedding that happened in Jeddah."
Later that day, there were reports that four people were arrested on accusations that they appeared in the video. But the people reportedly taken into custody were in supposedly in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, which is 600 miles to the east of Jeddah.
There are doubts about what actually happened or if the arrests occurred as reported.
Some reports claimed the police found gay porn on the mens' cell phone, silicone breasts, and sex toys during the arrests. But Saudi Arabia's leading papers didn't cover the story at all, and CNN Arabic, based in Dubai, said that police accounts could not be confirmed.
But the issue was kept alive on social media, including a video posted February 5 by Saudi YouTube personalities Fe2aFala saying those arrested are animals who should be "cured," "impaled" — or both.
Saudi Arabia usually punishes people accused of homosexuality with jail and lashes, unlike neighboring Iran which does utilize the death penalty. But this was about a month after Saudi Arabia's highly publicized execution of 47 political dissidents, and many people took to Twitter to call for the people arrested in this case to be executed too.
That's when the hashtag "اقترح_طريقة_لقتل_الشواذ#" — "#suggest_a_way_to_kill_the_faggots" — began.
Twitter appears to have deleted some tweets with this hashtag, but many are still out there.
This person took a cue from ISIS and suggested throwing them off buildings.
This person cited Islamic scripture:
LGBT-rights supporters have attempted to respond to the hashtag with their own, "سنحترم_حقوق_المثليين#" "#WeWillRespectGayRights."
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Twitter and YouTube for comment about the hashtag and the video that spawned it and will update this post if they respond.
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J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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