Saudi Arabia Arrests 46 For Stirring Divisions


Riyadh: The Saudi authorities on Wednesday said that they had arrested at least 22 people, including a Qatari national, for using social media to spread dissent.

According to a state news agency, another 24 people were detained in the northern Hail region for stirring tribal divisions.

Neither report went into the details of the offences. The announcements came days after an order from King Salman lifting a ban on women driving in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

Saudi Arabia, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, has also cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting militants and Iran, charges Doha denies.

Citing a source in the newly-created Presidency of State Security, the counter-terrorism and domestic intelligence body, reports said the 22 had been detained after authorities spotted videos on social media “inciting against public order”.

The online postings stirred “up feelings towards issues that are still under consideration,” and incited people to commit crimes, reports said.

Separately, the agency report also carried a statement from the interior ministry saying that during unspecified investigations in Hail, “people linked to the case were promoting lies and exaggerations about their circumstances in order to provoke sedition and tribal tensions”.

Soon after the two reports, Saudi Arabia’s top clerical body, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, issued a statement saying: “Anyone who tried to harm the kingdom security and the unity of its people has committed a dangerous crime”.