Despite offering several apologies, a Saudi man has found himself at the center of an unending furor of social media anger after Snapchatting an offensive selfie with a African immigrant girl who was rummaging through a dumpster in the kingdom.
While walking, Faisal Hafez noticed a young girl rummaging through the garbage, apparently looking for items that her family could resell or use. As the child was wearing an Al-Ittihad football jersey, Hafez said he found it humorous to see the jersey in the trash as he is a fan of rival football team Al-Ahli.
Hafez snapped the selfie and included a caption reading, "Look at where al-Ittihad is, in the bin." Sharing the image via SnapChat, Hafez probably never realized the storm of anger the image would bring via Twitter.
The message quickly went viral at the beginning of last week, and tweeters within Saudi Arabia viewed the actions of Hafez not only as highly insensitive to the plight of the poor girl but also racist, as she is an African immigrant.
The storm on Twitter has already led Hafez to apologize publicly through several videos. He also brought presents to the girl and took more selfies with her and the gifts. He videoed himself handing her the presents, apologizing and kissing her head.
Still, social media hasn't been satisfied with what they saw as a fake apology to downplay the controversy. Users shared the new selfie and continued to criticize the man and his "fake smiles."
Mahmoud Ahmad, a writer for the Saudi Gazette explained the criticism of the young man by writing:
"Although the man apologized, which is something honorable to do, we have to ask if he would have apologized if the brewing storm on social media had not threatened to blow him away. The action itself is wrong; we should not exploit the poor and take photos and make fun of them. I don’t think the young man considered this humanity factor before the campaign against him caught fire. What is sadder than the act itself is that the picture shows that poor people cannot defend themselves against these selfies because they are made to feel that they do not have a choice."
Other wealthy Saudi's reportedly pledged financial support to the girl, who has remained unidentified. According to the Saudi Gazette, Saudi rally driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi gave 50,000 Saudi riyals ($13,331) to the girl and a fan of Ittihad from Kuwait gave the girl 62,424 Saudi riyals. Another fan reportedly gave the girl tickets to an upcoming game for the football team.
Other news sources, however, have only reported that the amounts were pledged. Whether the young girl has actually received the contributions remains unclear. Regardless, the selfie incident has raised some valuable questions within Saudi Arabia about the plight of migrant workers and the hardships faced by the economically disadvantaged within the kingdom.
As for Hafez? It looks like you got your 15 minutes of fame buddy but you probably would have been better off without them.