Saudi Arabia ‘Detains’ Prominent Imam For Criticising Mixed Gatherings

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has reportedly detained Sheikh Saleh al-Talib, a prominent imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah for delivering sermons against mixed public gatherings.

 Talib also serves a judge in the holy city, according to a report published on Al Jazeera.

According to Prisoners of Conscience, a social media advocacy group which documents arrests of Saudi religious scholars and preaches, Sheikh was arrested after delivering a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak against evil in public.

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Khaleej Online  reported that Talib derided the mixing of unrelated men and women at concerts and various mixed entertainment events.

Although, the preacher did not directly criticise the rulers, the kingdom has relaxed laws on female attendance at public events in recent months.

Saudi Arabia has not issued any official statement pertaining to his arrest.

Talib’s English and Arabic social media accounts were deactivated soon after his reported arrest.

“Authorities are looking at everyone that’s influential and has a presence on the scene. Even those that have kept quiet or pledged allegiance to the state, even those that have been drumming up the authorities and their initiatives, even these are not safe,” said Yahya Assiri, a UK-based Saudi human rights activist.

Amnesty says at least 12 other leading human rights activists, including eight women, have been arrested in the kingdom since Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, became the Saudi crown prince in June 2017.

Rights experts have repeatedly raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom.


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