RIYADH – A Saudi teenager who charmed YouTube viewers with his clumsy online flirting has been arrested for ‘unethical behaviour’.
The boy, who goes by his screen name ‘Abu Sin’, a nickname which means ‘toothless’ in Arabic, shot to fame with his goofy attempts to woo Californian vlogger Christina Crockett, 21.
But police in Riyadh said the “enticing” videos had received “negative attention” when they went viral which violated the country’s conservative norms.
Riyadh Police spokesman Col Fawaz Al-Mayman told the Saudi Gazette that the police had arrested the teen on Sunday. “The live broadcasting website YouNow was launched in 2011 and was popularized among Gulf Arab youth. Abu Sin is 19 years old and he was arrested for unethical behavior. His videos received many comments and many of the commenters of the general public demanded for him to be punished for his actions,” said Al-Mayman.
The pair hit it off on conversational live-streaming site YouNow and drew in nearly 6.5 million views despite the fact that he speaks almost no English and she speaks no Arabic. The videos were later uploaded to YouTube where they gained even more fans.
The light-hearted videos show them attempting to communicate despite their obvious language barrier. In one of their most-watched videos Abu Sin grins as he tells Miss Crockett: ‘I am Saudi Arabia’. Wearing a low-cut top and smiling, she responds: ‘That’s cool, I’m America.’
Throughout their conversations he periodically blurts out in Arabic, “what’s she saying!?” But later he excitedly remembers some more English words, telling her: “I love you too. I love you too. I love you too.”
She replies: “Aw, I don’t even know what you’re saying, but I love you so much.”
The police in Riyadh tracked down the teenager and identified him to arrest him. The case was forwarded to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution.
If convicted he could face three years in prison.
Lawyer Abdulrahman Al-Lahem said the videos of Abu Sin breach Shariah Law and information technology law. “The teenager could face prison term – ranging from a year to three – depending on the sentence issued by the judge. The ethics and morals of Shariah Law apply even on the Internet,” said Al-Lahem.
The teen’s social media fans also called on Miss Crockett to help him but she refused, saying it wasn’t her fault.
Media laws in Saudi Arabia prohibit public incitement and obscenity but the teenager’s arrest has divided opinions in his home country, with one editorial in the Saudi daily Arab News claiming the incident ‘made people laugh [at Saudi Arabia]’ and arguing that the demands of public opinion should be upheld.
But it continued by asking people to consider whether a funny video should really be the cause of such outrage, asking, ‘When did being ‘silly’ ever become a crime?’ and suggesting the teen be given a television show rather than a jail term.