A SAUDI man has been arrested after horrifying footage of him beating his baby while trying to teach her to walk sparked outrage on social media.
The man, identified as Yousif Alqutia, was shown repeatedly slapping the crying infant across the head as well as lifting her up by her ears.
He is also seen slapping her back and stomach and picking her up and dropping her.
In between the physical abuse, he is seen trying to make her stand on her feet in an apparent bid to teach her to walk.
The footage sparked fury after going viral on social media in the Arab world and elsewhere over the weekend.
Lebanese actress Nadine Nassib Njeim wrote on twitter: “I couldn’t watch the video till the end! Plz I beg unicef and the government to help this baby.”
Another user wrote: “I just saw a video of a “father” hitting his BABY daughter because she wasn’t standing and that broke my heart!! How heartless that man is and the person taking the video isn’t better!!!”
It wasn’t at first known where the footage had been shot, but police in Saudi capital Riyadh now say a man in his 40s has been identified and arrested.
“He was arrested in Riyadh and his four children were provided with the necessary care in coordination with the concerned authorities,” the force said in a statement.”
Alqutia had earlier responded to the backlash with a video statement, also posted to social media, in which he posed with his daughter, who is now visibly older.
He claimed the footage had been shot “a long time ago” when he was suffering “psychological problems” and asked for forgiveness, The New Arab reported.
“As you can all see now she is perfectly fine,” he said.
“I tried to teach her to walk and now look by the grace of God she walks by herself.”
He also claimed his wife had recently left him with their children and published the footage online in order to hurt him.
“Their mother left all four of our children with me and it has been difficult – as you can see in front of you there’s nothing wrong with them,” he said.
“It’s an old video and I have repented to God. Back then I was going through psychological problems.
“I urge you all to pray for me instead of praying against me.”
The man’s family are also reported to have disowned him.
Zuhair Alqutai, identified as the head figure in the family, appeared on local radio saying Yousif had recorded the video to gain attention during a period of unemployment.
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Saudi authorities said investigations into the incident continue.
Earlier this month, another Saudi man was arrested after footage emerged showing him firing a pistol before putting its barrel in a baby’s mouth.
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