A large Saudi public university announced it would dismiss employees suspected of ties to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Activists and rights groups say security forces have rounded up some 30 clerics, intellectuals and others over the past ten days, in what Human Rights Watch has described as “a coordinated crackdown on dissent”.
Authorities have not explicitly acknowledged the detentions, which come amid widespread speculation – denied by officials – that King Salman will abdicate in favour of his son as well as deepening tensions with neighbouring Qatar, which is accused by Riyadh of supporting Islamists, including the Brotherhood.
The governing council of Al-Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh advised against renewing contracts for employees it said were “influenced by the ideology of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organisation”.
The statement, posted online yesterday, did not name the employees or specify their number, but said they included Saudis and foreigners.
The employees’ removal “aims to protect the minds of students and university employees from those deviant, partisan ideas and dangerous, destructive trends,” it added.
Saudi Arabia designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in 2014. Hardline groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State are also blacklisted.