Two days after reported arrest of 20 preachers and scholars, Saudi Arabia has detained more preachers and scholars; according to activists. Activists reported on social media on Tuesday that at least eight prominent figures, including clerics, academics, television anchors and a poet, have been detained by Saudi Arabia since Monday as part of the security sweep.
The report was also confirmed by ALQST, a London-based Saudi rights group, although it gave no specific figure. ALQST head, Yahiya al-Assiri, has confirmed the arrest of four, “[Salman] Al-Odah, [Awad] al-Qarni, Farhan al-Malki and Mostafa Hassan.
Reuters was informed by a Saudi security source that the suspects were accused of “espionage activities and having contacts with external entities including the Muslim Brotherhood”. Muslim Brotherhood has been classified by Riyadh as a “terrorist” organisations. However Saudi officials could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, condemning the arrests, a Doha-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has linked them to the crisis between Qatar and four other Arab states – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt and urged Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz to order their release. The union said the scholars “should not be used as pawns in political disputes.”
Al-Jazeera has quoted IUMS as saying “In regards to the crisis [with] the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, Odah has done nothing but call for unity between these brotherly countries,” the statement read, noting that his last tweet urged GCC members to “come together for the sake of their people”.
The IUMS is an organization of Islamic theologians headed by chairman Yusuf al-Qaradawi and headquartered in Qatar. Salman al-Odah is also member of the IUMS’s board of trustees.
Sunday’s arrests came to light on Twitter after Khalid bin Fahd al-Odah said on Twitter on Sunday that the Saudi authorities had arrested his brother Salman.