MAKKAH/JEDDAH: A Saudi rapper has been forced to issue an online denial of animal cruelty after widespread public anger at a video in which he asks: “What happens if you microwave a cat?”
The rapper known as “Dyler,” whose real name is Abdul Aziz Al-Djlah, told his 6 million Instagram followers that he had been wrongly accused of animal torture and had been engaging in “dark humor” when he made the video.
Although the self-proclaimed rapper explained that it was simply an act and that he had never microwaved his kitten, critics were quick to pounce, claiming several videos had appeared on social media of kittens actually being microwaved for 30 seconds “just as Dyler did.”
“It is a horrific crime, he is not a kid. An 18-year-old would know what will happen when you microwave a kitten,” Farah Gonzalez, owner and lone operator of Kitty Tender Love and Care Shelter and Cat Hotel in Jeddah, told Arab News.
“He is giving a bad example to his followers and could go to jail for this. He should be offering a good example, not giving naive kids these ideas,” she added.
Although the rapper’s video was posted online more than nine months ago, it circulated recently on social media, enraging many people and trending under the hashtag #DylerTorturesCat.
Influencers in Jeddah also voiced their anger at the video, with one saying: “He has 6 million subscribers on YouTube. People who are saying it’s no big deal should think again — it is a big deal.”
Um Asma, who rescues homeless cats at her Gus’s Hope shelter, told Arab News: “This YouTuber and anyone who follows his example needs to be fined and punished.”
She urged parents to educate their children about love and mercy toward animals, saying: “I don’t think this is a funny joke. People need to talk more about this so that if anyone even thinks of doing it, they know they will be exposed.”
However, Dyler the rapper denied claims that he was encouraging cruelty.
“The video is almost nine months old, and at that time I was making content every day and didn’t think much of this skit,” he said. “I do admit the idea is wrong, it was dark humor. However, I would never be abusive with my animals. It was a mistake I made.”
Mohammed Mahmoud, a legal adviser to Arab News, described the rapper’s YouTube video as “disgraceful.”
Animal welfare is protected in Saudi Arabia under the GCC Animal Welfare Act, Mahmoud said.
“The act strictly punishes those who violate animal rights, starting with a SR50,000 ($13,327) fine for the first violation and fines of up to SR400,000 if the violation is repeated more than once,” he added.
Mahmoud said that the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture can issue punishments for animal rights violators.