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Saudi sentences student to 27 years in jail for social media posts

November 10, 2023 at 3:59 pm

Social media applications are displayed on a smart phone screen on 30 September 2021 [Ali Balıkçı/Anadolu Agency]

The Specialised Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Sarah Al-Jar, a medical student, to 27 years imprisonment, followed by a travel ban for another 27 years, following social media posts she made.

The harsh sentencing stirred controversy from social media users who demanded the ruling be reversed, and described her posts as “peaceful activity” within the frame of expressing her opinion.

For its part, the Al-Qst Human Rights Organisation called on the Saudi authorities to “drop all charges against her and immediately release her”.

A number of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia have also called for her release and for details of the content of the posts that led to such a severe sentence.

Last year, the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights published a report entitled: “Women 2022: Saudi Arabia is covering up violations and falsifying reality,” in which it revealed that “women in Saudi Arabia face various forms of official and domestic violence, in addition to widespread violations targeting female activists and arbitrary arrests of female human rights defenders after unfair trials.”

According to the report, the Saudi government has arrested at least 121 women since 2015, and has issued harsh sentences against them.

“This includes a 27-year prison sentence for doctoral student Salma Al-Shehab, 45 years for Noura Al-Qahtani, and 30 years for Fatima Al-Shawareb because of posts on Twitter,” the report said.

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