Mixed-Gender Post-Ramadan Dinner Stirs Controversy on Saudi Social Media

Getty Images
Getty Images

JAFFA, Israel – A Saudi company came under fire for organizing a mixed-gender iftar dinner for its employees.

Pictures showing men and women – some veiled, some not – having dinner together in Jeddah to mark the end of a day of fasting stirred controversy on social media.

Some said that the “sin” of gender mixing casts doubt on their religious observance.

“Are you sure they even fast?” Abu Osman asked.

“This is not how it should be,” wrote AM. “It is happening in my country, during the holy month, a month of heaven and hell. Tomorrow they’ll wake up and seek forgiveness, to hell with them.”

“We’re sick of you with your ‘mixed gender’ obsession,” MAR wrote. “What planet do you live on? Everywhere, and all the time, genders are mixed. Why this narrow-mindedness, why this suspicion? Maybe the problem is with you, God forbid.”

“Our society is rebelling against Sharia, against social norms and tradition,” Gazi wrote.

“They look non-Saudi to me,” another wrote. “They should be prosecuted and kicked back to their countries.”

Khaled wrote that this was further proof that “the world is deteriorating, God forbid.”

“May Allah damn them on this holy month,” Rakan wrote.

Some users questioned the supposedly promiscuous lifestyle in Jeddah that sometimes strays from Sharia law, with one saying: “I’ve always said that Jeddah needs to be reconquered by Islam. There should be an Operation Storm of Determination [alluding to Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen].”

“There’s no question that these people are either Shi’ite or Druze,” one wrote in defense of Sunni piety.

The discussion spiraled into a Sunni-Shi’ite face-off, in which both sides labeled each other extremist and primitive.