'Use prisoners' as medical lab rats, Saudi actress suggests amid coronavirus epidemic

'Use prisoners' as medical lab rats, Saudi actress suggests amid coronavirus epidemic
Maram Abdulaziz became the latest Arab influencer to spark controversy amid the ongoing global health pandemic.
3 min read
07 April, 2020
The actress shared the suggestion on Twitter [Instagram/actmaram]
A Saudi actress has sparked controversy for proposing medical experiments for new medication to be conducted on prisoners.

Maram Abdulaziz made the suggestion to nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter, where she said "if it was up to me, I would not waste money on food and drink by imprisoning those that have been detained - especially on security grounds.

"I would make them experiments for new medication even if the results aren't guaranteed. This would serve as punishment for them but would also benefit the state," she said.

"Better them than mice and monkeys who have not harmed us," she added.

The suggestion was met with uproar online, with many accusing the actress of fascism. 

"All prisoners, irrespective of charges against them, are tried according to the laws in force in the country they are in. They are lives entrusted with the authorities and not lab rats," one social media user said.

"Thank God these issues are not actually up to you," another tweeter said.

The tweet has since been deleted off Twitter

The actress attempted to rectify the situation with a later tweet addressing those questioning why she hadn’t volunteered herself for experimental services.

"First of all, I have been donating stem cells for a long time and have also registered to donate my organs after death. Secondly, clinical trials require health people - this does not apply to me. Rest assured, I am not one that preaches but doesn't practice," the actress added.

The initial tweet has since been deleted.

Earlier this week, a famous Kuwaiti actress also sparked a anger by calling for expatriates to be expelled from the oil-rich nation so that locals can be assured a hospital bed if they fall ill with coronavirus.

Hayat al-Fahad, 71, who is known for playing a range of roles in Arabic dramas, told a local television station that foreigners in the country should be kicked out during the health crisis.

"We are fed up. If we get sick, there are no hospitals (for us)," she said during a telephone interview on Tuesday. 

"Why, if their countries do not want them, should we deal with them? Aren't people supposed to leave during crises?

"We should send them out... put them in the desert. I am not against humanity, but we have reached a stage where we're fed up."

Many people online criticised the actress' comments, with one Twitter user saying it was "so unacceptable". 

"How many Kuwaitis are outside Kuwait at the moment? Should everyone also apply her logic when it comes to them?" another person posted.

Social media users also pointed out the irony of Fahad's own background, saying she is originally Iraqi.

Kuwait has recorded some 317 cases of the COVID-19 disease so far, with no deaths, and there are no accounts of its medical system being overstretched. 

Special coverage: How many coronavirus cases are there in the Middle East?

It has adopted the strictest measures in the Gulf to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus by largely locking down the country.

Kuwait has also announced that it will treat Covid-19 patients - including non-Kuwaitis, who account for nearly 70 percent of the population - for free.

The Covid-19 virus, which was first detected in China's Wuhan in December, has killed more than 74,820 people worldwide, while over 1,349,915 infections have been confirmed.

The majority of those that infected with Covid-19 experience only mild or moderate symptoms, including fever and a dry cough.

As of yet, there are no known treatments for the virus, though more than 286,877 have already recovered from the infection.

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