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Saudi police arrest woman who tweeted photo of herself not wearing a hijab

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Saudi women use their mobile phones in the Saudi village of Al-Thamama on Feb. 8. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

One woman, identified by several news outlets as Malak al-Shehri, was making a statement for equality in Muslim-dominated Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally and a big donor to the Clinton Foundation, when she was arrested for wearing a multicolored dress, a black jacket, ankle boots and, most egregiously, not wearing a hijab or a loose-fitting garment, called an abaya.

Shehri tweeted a photo of her illegal outfit last month, immediately garnering death threats and calls for her arrest and execution from social media users throughout Saudi Arabia.

According to a woman who spoke to the International Business Times about the ordeal, Shehri had tweeted of her intentions to break the fundamentalist dress code, and her followers asked her to share a photo when she did it. And on Monday, police retaliated against the young woman's disobedience.

Law enforcement officers in Riyadh, the country's capital city, arrested the woman as part of their duty to monitor "violations of general morals," spokesman Fawaz al-Maiman told the Agence France-Presse. Shehri, who is in her 20s, was arrested and imprisoned after posting the photo next to a popular café in the city.

She was also detained for "speaking openly about prohibited relations" with unrelated men, according to the AFP.

"Riyadh police stress that the action of this woman violates the laws applied in this country," Maiman said, reminding Saudis to "adhere to the teachings of Islam," which mandates women wear headscarves and loose-fitting clothing any time they are in public.

In addition to her arrest, the courageous woman also faces lashing, according to multiple reports, which is generally broken up into weekly bouts of 20-30 floggings based on specific guidelines. The beatings can be so severe that they sometimes result in death.

Shehri has since deleted her Twitter account, but not before she received an influx of hateful and abusive responses, according to the Washington Post:

Shehri, whose first name means angel, soon received hateful messages, including many with the hashtag “we demand the imprisonment of the rebel Malak al-Shehri.”

One account tweeted “we want blood.” Other users wrote, “Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs” and “The least punishment for her is beheading her.”

Once the news of her arrest was released, some tweeted in approval of the authorities’ actions. One user wrote that he was thankful the woman was arrested, and demanded harsh penalties. “The country’s system has not been respected,” he wrote.

Others, though, praised Shehri's bold move.

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump, who was competing against Hillary Clinton at the time, often slammed his Democratic rival over her foundation's acceptance of donations from countries — like Saudi Arabia — that are hostile toward the LGBT community and women. A 2015 report from PolitiFact, which published records only in donation ranges, found that the charity had accepted between $19.3 million and $55.7 million from Muslim-dominated governments that mistreat minorities.

During the final presidential debate, Trump called on Clinton to "give back the money" to countries "that push gays off buildings" and "kill women and treat women horribly."

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