Zaynab al-Khawaja, 28, widely known as “Angry Arabiya” for her outspoken tweets on human rights abuses, has been arrested in Bahrain. Photos and a video show Khawaja, who is the daughter of jailed human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, being disciplined and then handcuffed by police.
Khawaja was reportedly arrested after refusing leave a roundabout in Budaiya Highway west of Manama after a sit-in had concluded. Hundreds of anti-government protesters had participated in the sit-in before being dispersed by riot police with tear gas and stun grenades.
The Bahraini Ministry of Interior apparently confirmed Khawaja’s arrest in a tweet, writing “2 ladies were arrested for taking part & calling for illegal gathering & one of them attacked public security female employee near Busaiba.” While they did not identify Khawaja by name, human rights activist Leah McElrath, who focuses on Bahrain, believes the ministry was referring to Khawaja. The second woman arrested is reportedly 17-year-old Mariam Al Sarraj.
Sarraj, however, appears to have been released soon after she was detained, writing on her Twitter account: “Thank you all for tweeting -so tired reply to you later.”
But Khawaja is reportedly still behind bars. Her last tweets, which stopped several hours ago, give a glimpse into the last minutes before her arrest:
At the time, she went on a hunger strike for 10 days to protest to demand the release of her family members.
Her prolific, often angry tweeting about human rights abuses in Bahrain has gained attention internationally. She has also written a number of letters on her blog addressed to President Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon requesting that they take action to fight human rights abuses in Bahrain.
A video interview by the New York Times’ Nick Kristof with Khawaja was released just hours before she was arrested. In the video, Kristof asks her whether the protests are pushing the system in a way that could undermine the way people live. Khawaja replies: “What you’re saying is... Maybe the conditions are good enough here for you to accept dictatorship.”
Watch a video that purportedly shows Khawaja’s arrest: