Recently, a news story went viral regarding how a Saudi rapper made a music video, and the authorities ordered her and her crew arrested.
First, let me say, Ayasel Slay’s video “Bint Mecca” (Mecca Girl) is a vivid testament to how beautiful the Saudi society is, mashallah. The video showcases a beautiful and stylish Black woman, Ayasel Slay, rapping in a lovely café, and features bunches of smiling children dancing. It’s really a beautiful visual: urban, cultured, and diverse, depicting a society where people have rights and the ability to creatively express themselves.
The order to arrest Asayel and her crew was based on the fact that she is a disgrace to Meccan women; that her dancing and singing does not represent the women of Mecca at all.
The calls for Asayel’s arrest definitely sets back the Kingdom’s efforts to cast Saudi society in a better light as far as modernization.
The response on social media has been mixed, with some criticizing Ayasel quite ferociously for being a disgrace. A lot of people do agree she should be arrested. However, many think it is blatant hypocrisy. Recent actions by the Saudi government to give Saudi Arabia a better image, with events like MDL Beast, where influencers and stars were invited and a huge party was held, represents the most visible example. Additionally, there are undoubtedly a lot of changes that have given women more rights, which I have found hugely reassuring, even with the reluctance I feel to have an opinion on Saudi Arabia when I live in California.
The calls for Asayel’s arrest definitely sets back the Kingdom’s efforts to cast Saudi society in a better light as far as modernization. It unfortunately makes them look very bad, with the whole world watching.
Part of the criticism of the order to arrest her on social media has been that Asayel is Black or that she’s African (she’s of Eritrean descent), and that the negative response towards her work has been driven by racism.
Some have even called for her to be deported back to Africa and referred to her as a “foreigner,” despite the fact she is from Mecca. Others called out the authorities, saying if she was a rich, light-skinned Arab influencer, there would have been no problem with her actions, but that the authorities want to deny Black women an equal role in society. As powerful as racism is, there is probably quite a bit of truth in the accusations that implicit bias — if not overt racism — played a huge role in the negative response.
BBC News is reporting that the video has been removed from Ayasel’s YouTube channel, and her channel is currently suspended.
I think the most important thing to remember is that when you’ve accomplished something great and are attacked for it, don’t let the hate and ignorance of a few people slow you down. This video is a beautiful and vibrant piece of art, and nothing can take that away from Ayasel Slay and her crew. Mecca Girl slay!
Sarah is a social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with at-risk and homeless youth. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God in her free time. She is currently working on a book on Sufism, mindfulness and recovery from co-occurring disorders and on an album with her band EYETestify.