Saudi Arabia arrests prominent cleric: social media
September 11 2017 11:24 AM
Sheikh Salman al-Awdah
Sheikh Salman al-Awdah

Reuters/Riyadh

A prominent Saudi religious leader has been arrested, according to social media postings on Sunday.

Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, an influential cleric who was imprisoned from 1994-99 for agitating for political change and has 14 million followers on Twitter, appears to have been detained over the weekend, the posting suggested.

In one of his last postings on Twitter, he welcomed a report on Friday suggesting that a three-month-old row between Qatar and four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia may be resolved.

‘May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people,’ Awdah said on Twitter after a report of a telephone call between His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss ways to resolve the rift which began in June.

Hopes for a breakthrough were quickly dashed when Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar, accusing it of ‘distorting facts’.

Awdah was the second cleric reported detained by Saudi authorities in the past week. Reports on social media said that Awad al-Qarni, another prominent cleric with 2.2 million Twitter followers, was also detained from his home in Abha in southern Saudi Arabia.

Like Awdah, Qarni had also expressed support for reconciliation between Arab countries and Qatar.

Saudi officials could not immediately be reached for a comment on the reported arrests.

Reports of the arrests coincided with widespread speculation, dismissed by officials, that King Salman intends to abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Mohammed.

Exiled Saudi opposition activists have called for protests on September 15 intended to galvanize opposition to the royal family.

Last updated: September 11 2017 05:32 PM


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