Yara, an American business woman from Utah, "believed that life in Saudi Arabia was becoming more liberal". She was wrong, she found out the hard way. Yara, a mother of three, was arrested from a Starbucks cafe and thrown into the Malaz prison in Riyadh by a few unidentified extremists from Saudi Arabia's Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Times Online reports:
“They took me into a filthy bathroom, full of water and dirt. They made me take off my clothes and squat and they threw my clothes in this slush and made me put them back on,” she said. Eventually she was taken before a judge.
“He said 'You are sinful and you are going to burn in hell'. I told him I was sorry. I was very submissive. I had given up. I felt hopeless,” she said.
What was Yara's sin? With power out in her office, she took a break, and was having coffee with her colleagues, all men. Of Jordanian descent, she is married to a prominent businessman in Saudi Arabia, Hakim, who used his political connections to secure her release. None of the male colleagues seen with Yara was arrested or charged.
Yara, it is reported, wears an abaya and headscarf, like most Saudi women. She should have known that casual contact with unrelated men is strictly prohibited under Sharia:
The law prohibits men and women mixing [Ikhtilat] without necessity. When men and women are together the natural sexual attractiveness could lead them into temptation. When mixing is unavoidable for societal necessity, certain etiquette have been prescribed by the law to guide male-female interaction. Awrat must be covered as prescribed by the law, satr al awrat (24:31). The regulations of hijab for women must be followed. Men and women who are strangers to one another have to lower their gaze, ghadh al basar(24:31), and not look at each other fixedly and for a prolonged time. Both genders must have haya (28: 23-25). If a man and woman talk to one another they must be serious, jidiyyat al takhatub (33:32) and not engage in frivolous talk that could lead to temptation. An atmosphere of solemnity, wiqaar, must be maintained during the whole period of interaction (24:31).
--- Professor Dr. Omar Hassan Kasule Sr. Human Sexuality and the Shariat