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Saudi Scholar Held for Months Without Charge: HRW

Saudi Scholar Held for Months Without Charge: HRWSaudi Scholar Held for Months Without Charge: HRW

A prominent Muslim scholar has been detained by Saudi Arabia for the past four months without charge, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Saudi authorities detained Salman al-Awda on September 7 and later imposed travel bans on members of Awda’s family, the US-based rights group said on Sunday, Al Jazeera reported.

A family member told HRW that Awda 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.

Instead, Awda posted a tweet on September 9, saying: “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people”—an apparent call for reconciliation between the Persian Gulf countries, HRW said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott against Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of aiding “terrorists” and having close ties with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations.

The family member cited by HRW said that authorities permitted Awda only one phone call in October.

“Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s efforts to reform the Saudi economy and society are bound to fail if his justice system scorns the rule of law by ordering arbitrary arrests and punishments,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

“There’s no justification for punishing family members of a detainee without showing even the slightest evidence or accusation of wrongdoing on their part.”

According to HRW, Awda was among the first of dozens of people detained in mid-September as part of a crackdown against what Saudi authorities said were those acting “for the benefit of foreign parties against the security of the kingdom and its interests.”

 

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