Saudi arrests prominent cleric Al Ouda for his tweet supporting end of Gulf crisis

 11 Sep 2017 - 15:52

Saudi arrests prominent cleric Al Ouda for his tweet supporting end of Gulf crisis

The Peninsula / Reuters

A prominent Saudi religious leader has been arrested, according to social media postings on Sunday.

Sheikh Salman Al Ouda, who has 14 million followers on Twitter, appears to have been detained over the weekend, the posting suggested.

The hashtag in Arabic (#اعتقال_الشيخ_سلمان_العودة) about his arrest was one of the top trending hashtags worldwide.

In one of his last postings on Twitter, he welcomed a report on Friday suggesting that a three-month-old row between Qatar and four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia may be resolved.

"May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people," al Oudah said on Twitter after a report of a telephone call between Qatar's Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss ways to resolve the rift which began in June.

Hopes for a breakthrough were quickly dashed after Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar after coming up with obscuring reasons and distorting facts.

Al Oudah was the second cleric reported detained by Saudi authorities in the past week. Reports on social media said that Awad al-Qarni, another prominent cleric with 2.2 million Twitter followers, was also detained from his home in Abha in southern Saudi Arabia.

Like Al Oudah, Qarni had also expressed support for reconciliation between Arab countries and Qatar.

Saudi officials could not immediately be reached for a comment on the reported arrests.

The twitteratis said Saudi security forces arrested 20 people, mostly preachers, including Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Amri.

Reports of the arrests coincided with widespread speculation, dismissed by officials, that King Salman intends to abdicate in favour of Crown Prince Mohammed.

Exiled Saudi opposition activists have called for protests on September 15 intended to galvanise opposition to the Saudi Arabian royal family.