Global media is reporting that Saudi cleric Salman Al-Awda has been arrested in what was described as a crackdown on Saudi Islamists. According to a Reuters report:
September 11, 2017 (Reuters) – A prominent Saudi religious leader has been arrested, according to social media postings on Sunday, in what appears to be a crackdown on Islamists seen as critics of the conservative kingdom’s absolute rulers.
Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, an influential cleric who was imprisoned from 1994-99 for agitating for political change and has 14 million followers on Twitter, appears to have been detained over the weekend, the posting suggested.
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,’ Awdah said on Twitter after a report of a telephone call between Qatar’s Emir 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 when Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar, accusing it of ‘distorting facts’.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist militants, a charge Doha denies.
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In August 2012, the GMBDW reported that Salman Al-Awda had given a TV interview in which accused Jews of using human blood to make Matzoh (substitute for bread used during the Jewish holiday of Passover) as well as other antisemitic claims. The statement about using Christian blood for the making of Matzoh is an example of what is called “blood libel”, the accusations that Jews use human blood in religious rituals. Historically these are accusations that the blood of Christian children is especially coveted and date back to the 1st Century. Dr. Salah Soltan, another board member of the IUMS, has also made the same accusation.
Salman Al-Awdah (aka Salman al-Oadah, Salman Bin Fahd Al Ouda, Salman Al-`Udah, Salman Al Awda) was until recently known to be a sympathizer of Osama Bin Laden but, likely under pressure from the Saudi government, has moderated his public positions and has increasingly been a regular feature at Global Muslim Brotherhood events. A post from November 2010 reported that the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) had appointed Al-Awdah, as well as Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders Rachid Ghannouchi and Issam Al-Bashir to the position of IUMS Assistant Secretary. The IUMS was headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. A post from October 2010 indicated that Al-Awda and Al-Bahsir were in attendance at a conference of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY).
The Reuters report also said that Awad al-Qarni, another prominent cleric, was also detained by the authorities. In April of this year, we reported that Al-Qarni had been banned from using Twitter by a Saudi court. who convicted him of spreading content on Twitter that “could jeopardize public order and provoke public opinion.” GMBDW reporting on Al Qarni over the years has included:
- In July 2009, we cited background on Al Qarni and his 2008 fatwa calling for “attacks on Israeli interests worldwide”:
- In July 2009 we also reported that Al Qarni had denied Egyptian government accusations that he is part of the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.
- In April 2012 we reported that Al-Qarni had been banned from entering France to attend a French Muslim Brotherhood conference. The ban also included Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan.
- In March 2012 we reported that US had blocked Al-Qarni from entering the country in order to attend a US Muslim Brotherhood convention.