Who is Manahel al-Otaibi? 29-year-old influencer serving 11-year jail time over 'terrorist offenses' in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi activist Manahel al-Otaibi was sentenced to jail in a 'secret hearing' by an anti-terrorism court after she was allegedly arrested for 'her choice of clothing and support for women’s rights'

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In a shocking development, a 29-year-old fitness trainer and women's rights activist Manahel al-Otaibi aka Manahel Alotibi has been serving jail time of 11 years in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudi activist Manahel al-Otaibi was sentenced to jail in a 'secret hearing' by anti-terrorism court after she was allegedly arrested for 'her choice of clothing and support for women’s rights'. Manahel al-Otaibi aka Manahel Alotibi's arrest was confirmed by Saudi Arabia's officials in a statement to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Saudi Arabia stated that Manahel al-Otaibi was sentenced on 9 January for what the Saudi government called "terrorist offences". Now, the question arises who is Manahel al-Otaibi aka Manahel Alotibi serving jail time in Saudi Arabia?

 

Who is Manahel al-Otaibi aka Manahel Alotibi?

 

Manahel al-Otaibi aka Manahel Alotibi is a fitness trainer/influencer who was actively involved in advocating women's rights in the Islamic country Saudi Arabia. As per reports, Manahel al-Otaibi is a certified fitness trainer. She was arrested in November 2022 after she actively promoted female empowerment on her social media accounts. Among other charges, Manahel al-Otaibi was accused by Saudi authorities of using a hashtag – translated to #societyisready – to call for an end to male guardianship rules. Her sister, Fouz al-Otaibi was also accused of not wearing decent clothing but was able to flee Saudi Arabia before her arrest. Manahel al-Otaibi's other sister, Maryam, is a known women’s rights advocate who was detained, held, and eventually released in 2017 for protesting guardianship rules.

 

 

Amnesty International and ALQST, a rights group, called on Saudi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the 29-year-old influencer and said her imprisonment 'directly contradicts authorities’ narrative of reform and women’s empowerment'.

 

The human rights group also alleged that following Manahel al-Otaibi's arrest, she was subjected 'to physical and psychological abuse' in the Malaz Prison in Riyadh. She told her family in April that she was being held in solitary confinement and had a broken leg as a result of physical abuse, Amnesty and ALQST were quoted saying. 

Amnesty and ALQST allege Al-Otaibi’s charges are related “solely to her choice of clothing and expression of her views online, including calling on social media for an end to Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, publishing videos of herself wearing ‘indecent clothes,’ and ‘going to the shops without wearing an abaya’."

Manahel al-Otaibi, a 25-year-old activist, is pictured in Riyadh in September 2019.

As per reports, under Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system, a woman's father, brother, husband, or son has the authority to make critical decisions on their behalf about marriage, divorce, and their children.

Talking about her Instagram, Manahel al-Otaibi still has more than 42K followers (while writing). Manahel al-Otaibi's Insta posts are filled with best wishes as well as threats from hardliners. 


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