Saudi Arabia may execute three scholars after Ramadan, reports say

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Al Jazeera English
Published at : 17 Jan 2021
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Saudi Arabia may execute three prominent scholars after Ramadan according to media reports.

The country has jailed many activists and dissidents since Mohammed bin Salman became the crown prince two years ago.
The three religious scholars are currently reportedly being held on charges that include conspiring against the monarchy and supporting “terrorism”.

Sami Hamdi, Editor-in-Chief of The International Interest: “If you are Mohammed bin Salman and you saw how you got away with the Khashoggi case, you saw that the international community didn’t move in the Khashoggi case and you see the reaction to liberal activists, you see a big campaign. When it comes to religious scholars, the campaign is half-hearted. You see that religious scholars are now easy territory. It’s easy hunting ground. MBS is going after them because he knows there will not be a great push against.”
Their treatment has been condemned by rights groups.
But who are the three scholars?

SALMAN AL-ODAH: Salman al-Awdah is an internationally renowned scholar known for his progressive views on Islamic law.

He is a lead figure of ‘The Awakening’ or Sahwa movement and was imprisoned from 1994-1999 for calling for political change. He revived the calls when he spoke out in favour of the Arab uprisings that swept across the Middle East in 2011.

Saudi media outlets have accused him in the past of inciting “terror and intolerance”.
al-Awdah has amassed a large international following because of his writings and TV appearances.
He was arrested in September 2017 shortly after tweeting a prayer for reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, three months after Riyadh launched a blockade on the Gulf nation.

Bessma Momani: Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo
“It really is quite problematic but it really demonstrates I think the Saudi government’s attempt to put a chill in preventing all political opinions and views that counter frankly the government’s very monolithic kind of narrative.”

AWAD AL-QARNI: Awad al-Qarni is a preacher and author. He is also credited with being one of the minds behind ‘The Awakening’ movement.
The Saudi authorities accused him of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Saudi Arabia. Al-Qarni has said he was barred from tweeting just before his arrest.

ALI AL-OMARI: Ali al-Omari is a famous Saudi public figure and scholar who mainly campaigned against violence and called for more rights for women. including questioning the country’s male guardianship system.

“Women can go out and work and take part. She has a presence in mosques and in worship, she has a presence in societal movements. She has a natural presence. Especially in today’s society, there’s nothing wrong and no issue.”

His TV and YouTube channels attracted thousands of viewers.
Both al-Omari and al-Qarni were also arrested in September 2017.

The detention of the three scholars has already been condemned by the UN and the US State Department, as well as rights groups.
In 2018, Saudi Arabia carried out 149 executions.
(Source: Amnesty International)
In 2019, that number is already at 107.
(Source: European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights)
Rights groups say Saudi Arabia is on course to execute more people this year than any other year this decade.
37 people were executed in April on “terrorism” related charges. Most of them were members of the country’s Shia minority.
And weeks before Saudi Arabia officially allowed women to drive last year, the kingdom arrested a group of activists who had been campaigning for that very right.

Bessma Momani: Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo
“When you go after mild critics, when you go after poets, intellectuals and professors, it’s a signal of weakness and it’s a shame. It again creates this entire feeling throughout society that one could be next. We saw with the 200-some persons that were arrested a few years back in the Ritz Carlton, that could include family members of the royal family, that could include political insiders and that’s really quite problematic. It’s not a healthy way to grow your country, both financially and frankly from a nationalistic perspective. It’s very, very problematic.”

#AlJazeeraEnglish #SaudiExecution #KSA
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