A Saudi Woman Is Threatened After Tweeting About Beards

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Media Outlet: The New Yorker

The controversy began—as virtually all political and religious debate in Saudi Arabia does these days—with a provocative tweet. On January 18th, Souad al-Shammary, a liberal activist with more than a hundred thousand Twitter followers, tweeted her thoughts about the idea, popular among devout Saudis, that Muslim men should grow long beards in order to differentiate themselves from unbelievers. The notion was “silly,” Shammary wrote, pointing out that “Jews, priests, Communists and Marxists” have also been known to wear beards.


Katherine Zoepf was a fellow in the Better Life Lab at New America. She is the author of Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World