Abdullah Alaoudh

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Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was released from prison earlier this month after serving 1001 days in prison for "crimes" that included contacting human rights groups and trying to change Saudi Arabia's restrictive male guardianship laws. Loujain is by no means free, though. She is banned from traveling for five years and remains on a three-year probation, living under the constant threat of being jailed again.

Travel bans are not new in Saudi Arabia. But past rulers used them more sparingly. Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) took power, they have increasingly become a key instrument in his struggle to extinguish any semblance of dissent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, January 2021. Photograph: AP

The apparent end to the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar and a reconciliation among the states involved prompts the question: when will the Saudi government release the citizens who were caught up in the conflict and imprisoned during the three and a half-year crisis?

In a breakthrough, it was announced on 4 January that Saudi Arabia had opened its land border with Qatar, paving the way for an easing of tensions that had led to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain severing diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in mid-2017. On 5 January, the annual GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) summit took place in Saudi Arabia’s north-western Al-Ula province.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump was an unabashed supporter of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Monday, a court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sentenced Loujain al-Hathloul, the Saudi activist, to five years and eight months in prison. Ms. al-Hathloul, who campaigned for the right of women to drive, was convicted of “trying to harm national security” and advancing “a foreign agenda”. She has already been in prison for two and a half years. A combination of time served and partial sentence suspension could lead to her release in a month or so.

Ms. al-Hathloul’s case has attracted international attention and condemnation from United Nations human rights experts, the U.S. House of Representatives and numerous rights organizations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Despite the claims of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his enablers, Saudi Arabia is not rolling back the hard-line religious establishment. Instead, the kingdom is curtailing the voices of moderation that have historically combated extremism. Numerous Saudi activists, scholars and thinkers who have sought reform and opposed the forces of extremism and patriarchy have been arrested. Many of them face the death penalty.

Salman Alodah, my father, is a 61-year-old scholar of Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, a reformist who argued for greater respect for human rights within Shariah, the legal code of Islam based on the Quran. His voice was heard widely, partly owing to his popularity as a public figure with 14 million followers on Twitter.…  Seguir leyendo »