CAIRO: On Friday early afternoon, a hashtag that had been circulating the micro-blogging site Twitter had been taken over by supporters of Saudi Arabia’s female athletes after having begun two days earlier calling the Saudi women “prostitutes.”
Wojdan Shaherkani (Judo) and Sarah Attar (athletics) are set to be the first women to ever represent the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom at the Olympics, but they were met with online users starting the Arabic hashtag “prostitutes at the Olympics” in an effort to defame the two women.
However, on Friday, those in support of the two women had taken over the hashtag, showing their overwhelming support for the women.
One user wrote that “these women are heroes” and another said “we will never back down from our freedom, go Saudi women.”
The hashtag was widely condemned by most online activists as a sign of bigotry and prejudice against the Saudi women who are braving their conservative nation to compete in London.
Global Voices Online, an international media and online social media organization, reported that “Saudi Twitter user allegedly called Sultan Al Hilali” began the anti-women hashtag.
Although only a few showed support for the hashtag, it has heightened tensions in the country over women’s participation in sports.
Saudi woman Jumana Abdel Latif told Bikyamasr.com that she hopes the women “can do us proud and begin to show that women can be athletes.
“I want my children to play sports and this is just the first step for women here in Saudi,” she added.
Activists have called on the Saudi government to investigate the hashtag and charge the person responsible for creating it.