In ultra-strict Muslim country Saudi Arabia and its neighbors in the Middle East, celebrations like Christmas and Halloween are strictly forbidden even if these are commonly celebrated in other parts of the world. Foreigners are also covered by this law; though many of them actually celebrate these occasions in private, along with some Saudis.
But a private Halloween party at a resort in Riyadh’s al-Thumama district had gotten out of hand, with the attendees becoming too loud and the blaring music soon become a nuisance in the neighborhood.
One participant told Reuters that hundreds attended the party; all were women, except for the DJs and organizers.
Cops were called to disperse the party, especially because the residents felt scared by the frightening costumes many of the participants were wearing.
Nineteen Filipinas were among those who were taken into custody by the police. Officials from the country scrambled to help the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) even though the first reports were unconfirmed on social media.
Saudi General Directorate for Public Security confirmed on Saturday that it had custody of the Filipina workers. The organizers have been charged for collecting entrance fees without a license and for “disturbing residents, order violations from some attendees, and striking fear in residents by using masks, strange clothes, and firecrackers.”
Contrary to initial reports, however, the OFWs held in connection with the raid were not attending the party but were hired as cleaners, confirmed Consul General for the Philippines in Saudi Arabia, Christopher Patrick Aro.
The OFWs were not wearing costumes when they were picked up by the cops. They were released to Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto.
While the workers had been temporarily released, Alonto said that the Pinays have not been cleared yet. Their employers have agreed to take them back but they could still face charges related to labor regulations since part-time jobs are not allowed in Saudi Arabia.
According to Alonto, the embassy will know in 2-3 weeks if the OFWs will be charged by the prosecutor’s office.