A Turkish man assaulted a young woman on an Istanbul bus for wearing shorts during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, images showed Wednesday, sparking a furore among women’s rights activists.

University student Asena Melisa Saglam was travelling on the bus when the man seated behind her struck her in the face, images published by Turkish media showed.

She responded by chasing after him but he grabbed her.

Saglam said that throughout the journey the man had been verbally harassing her by saying she should not be wearing shorts during Ramadan.

The man was detained but following questioning – in which he reportedly said he had been “provoked” – he was set free, causing a new outcry.

“The release of the attacker is a threat to all women,” the women’s rights organisation We Will Stop Femicide Platform wrote on Twitter.

“We will wear whatever we want outside. We will not give up our freedoms.”

Following the outcry, an order was given to re-arrest the man but it was not immediately clear if he had been detained again.