Prominent Saudi cleric Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda, who was arrested on 7 September 2017, has been hospitalised in the Saudi city of Jeddah after more than four months in solitary confinement.
"Despite the deliberate blackout and poor communication it was confirmed that my father has been seen in hospital," Al-Ouda's son, who is currently residing in the United States, said in a tweet on Wednesday.
برغم التعتيم المتعمد والشحّ الشديد في التواصل،
وصلتني أخبار مؤكدة عن رؤية والدي في المستشفى،
ونحن نحمّل ساجنيه مسؤولية صحته وسلامته أمام الله ثم أمام الناس والأمة.
— عبدالله العودة (@aalodah) January 16, 2018
Abdullah has not been given information about his father or his health since he was taken to hospital. "Until now, we still haven't heard anything about my father's health. We do not know anything given all this suspicious secrecy. We have no contact with him and no messages of reassurance."
لانزال إلى هذه اللحظة لم نسمع أي خبر بشأن صحة الوالد،
ولانعلم أي شيء في ظل التكتّم المريب.
ليس هناك أي تواصل قريب ولا أي رسالة تطمين.
— عبدالله العودة (@aalodah) January 17, 2018
Al-Ouda was among more than 20 people detained in the Kingdom in early September 2017 as part of a campaign of arrests on "intelligence activities… for the benefit of foreign parties against the security of the kingdom and its interests," the US based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said earlier this month. He has been held without charge ever since and has reportedly been prevented from communicating with the outside world, being allowed only one telephone call in October.
"When my father was arrested, he was fully healthy despite his age. In this interview, before he went to prison, he highlighted how healthy he is physically. If anything were to happen to him now, God forbid, those imprisoning him will be held fully responsible," Al-Ouda's son said in another tweet.
حينما اُعتقِل الوالد، كان سليما صحيحاً برغم عمره،
وفي هذه المقابلة قبيل دخوله السجن.. وضّح صحته البدنية وسلامته والحمدلله،
إن أصابه أي مكروه الآن لاقدر الله فسنحمّل سجّانيه كل المسؤولية:https://t.co/aGhWEb5uco
— عبدالله العودة (@aalodah) January 17, 2018
According to his family, Al-Ouda and other prominent figures including Islamic scholars, preachers, writers, researchers and poets were arrested after refusing to tweet in support of the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. Instead, Al-Ouda posted a tweet endorsing warmer relations with Qatar.
Saudi and other Arab twitter users joined Abdullah Al-Ouda in drawing attention to the plight of the prisoners of conscience in the kingdom and calling for their freedom using the hashtag #أنقذوا_معتقلي_الرأي [#Save_Prisoners_Of_Conscience].
— Prisoners of Conscie (@m3takl_en) January 18, 2018
Writer and journalist Turki Al-Shalhoub wrote:
– Salman Al-Ouda made a prayer to God and got arrested.
– Jamil Farsi warned against selling Aramco and was arrested.
– Tarrad Al-Amari warned against the corrupt and was arrested.
– Saleh Al-Shehhi pointed out corruption in the court and was arrested.
– Essam Al-Zamil did his utmost to serve the country and was arrested.
– As for the rest of the detainees, everyone testifies to their love and loyalty to the country.
-سلمان العودة دعا الله فاعتُقِل
-جميل فارسي حذّر من بيع أرامكو فاعتُقِل
-طراد العمري حذّر من المفسدين فاعتُقِل
-صالح الشيحي أشار إلى وجود فساد بالديوان فاعتُقِل
-عصام الزامل عمل بكل إخلاص لخدمة البلد فاعتُقل
وبقية المعتقلين الجميع يشهد على حبهم وإخلاصهم للبلد#أنقذوا_معتقلي_الرأي
— تركي الشلهوب🤐 (@TurkiShalhoub) January 17, 2018
"What is painful about the the September detentions is that they are unjustified, with no charges and no conspiracies, and have damaged the positive image of His Highness the Crown Prince as he implements a set of reforms," wrote Jamal Khashoggi.
— جمال خاشقجي (@JKhashoggi) January 17, 2018
"You don't need to have a close relative in prison to support the oppressed, you just need to have a sincere heart and a living conscience to speak the truth and defend the oppressed, even if you disagree with their ideas."
ليس من الضروري أن يكون لك قريب معتقل لتناصر المظلومين بل يكفي أن تحمل قلباً صادقاً وضميراً حياً لتقول كلمه الحق وتدافع عن المظلوم حتى وأن أختلف معه في الافكار .
— تأبط شـراً (@tabbta30) January 18, 2018
"Curbing freedom of expression is a choice made by weak authorities. There is no weaker than the Saudi authorities, arresting those who oppose them and those who disagree with them or call for reform. They arrested everyone who said 'no' or 'why?' They just want you to listen and obey."
تكميم الأفواه خيار السلطة الضعيفة!
ولا أضعف وأهون من السلطة السعودية!
تعتقل من يعارضها ومن يختلف معها ومن يدعو للاصلاح!
اعتقلت كل من يقول "لا أو لماذا"!
يريدون أن تسمع وتطيع وتطبل ولا يمانعون قليل من "الهز" لأجل عيون ولي الأمر حفظه الله!#أنقذوا_معتقلي_الرأي
— عبدالله محمد الصالح (@abdullahalsaleh) January 17, 2018
The International Union of Muslim clerics (IUMS) also called on Wednesday for the release of all Muslim clerics arrested in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
— علماء المسلمين (@iumsonline) January 18, 2018
In a statement, the Union said it is continuing to follow up on the cases of the preachers and clerics held in Saudi and Emirati prisons for merely expressing their opinions.