Scores of Saudi Civilians Imprisoned over Critical Tweets of Regime: Report
Story Code : 869548
Independent pan-Arab daily newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, citing a post published on the official Twitter page of the Prisoners of Conscience – an independent nongovernmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, reported that scores of people have been languishing at Saudi Arabia’s prisons simply for the sake of publishing critical tweets.
The report added that former Saudi Arabian football player Fahad al-Harifi al-Bishi was arrested a few days ago because of a post, in which he criticized the rulers in Riyadh over their inadequate response to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Moreover, Saudi poet Aeyed al-Wardah was detained last year after he wrote a poem and published it online, criticizing the activities of the so-called General Authority for Entertainment (GEA).
Saudi authorities detained prominent dissident Muslim cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah on September 7, 2018 and have been holding him in solitary confinement without charge or trial ever since.
Officials have imposed travel bans on members of his family as well. A family member told Human Rights Watch that the distinguished cleric was being held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.
Awdah, instead, posted a tweet, saying, “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people,” - an apparent call for reconciliation between the Persian Gulf littoral states, the US-based rights group said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”
Qatar, in return, said the move was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
In 2018, Saudi officials arrested the preacher Abdul Aziz al-Fawzan after he lambasted authorities for their crackdown on Muslim scholars in the kingdom, terming it as a “chaotic war on religion and values” in a Twitter post.
Activist Yusef al-Mulhem was separately arrested in 2017 for a short tweet, expressing his “love” for Qatar.
Saudi authorities have arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.