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Saudi Arabia arrests 46 for ‘stirring divisions’

Social media apps [magicatwork/Flickr]

Saudi authorities revealed yesterday they had arrested 22 people, including a Qatari national, for using social media to spread dissent.

Another 24 people were detained in the northern Hail region for stirring tribal divisions, the state news agency SPA reported.

Neither report went into the details of the offenses.

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, SPA said the 22 had been detained after authorities spotted videos on social media “inciting against public order”.

Read: Khashoggi under fire for criticising Saudi Arabia

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

Separately, SPA 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’s security and the unity of its people has committed a dangerous crime.”

Last month, Saudi authorities began a crackdown on academics, religious clerics and rights activists in what international human rights groups call a drive by the Kingdom’s rulers to crush the country’s human rights movement.

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