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Two Saudis jailed for inciting protests, mocking rulers

The Special Criminal Court in Riyadh awarded jail terms to two Saudis on a handful of charges, including inciting protests

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The Special Criminal Court in Riyadh awarded jail terms to two Saudis on a handful of charges, including inciting protests and mocking the country’s rulers and scholars on Twitter.

Justice Ministry spokesman Fahd al-Bakran said that one of them was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a fine of SR100,000. A travel ban for a similar period was also imposed on him, in addition to confiscating his mobile phone. Al-Bakran said the defendant was convicted of posting tweets against rulers, scholars and government agencies, offensive pictures of the grand mufti, inciting anti-government protests especially against labor offices, taking part in anti-government protest and posting the photos on Twitter, associating with the self-styled reformers and keeping banned data on a mobile phone.

The court also jailed another Saudi for eight years and fined SR30,000, while also imposing a travel ban for an equal period. The charges against him included association with a wanted terrorist, searching for doctors to treat those injured in anti-government demonstrations in the area of Qatif, and not informing authorities about those who provided treatment to the injured protesters. He was also convicted of supporting those accused in Qatif rioting, and posting anti-government content on the Internet.

Meanwhile, a total of 222 university teachers and academics are suspected to be associated with the outfits that are banned in the kingdom.

Scholars condemn violence

Ten Saudi Arabia- based scholars have issued a statement condemning the use of violence and weapons in riots against the government.

The scholars, all from the al-Qatif and al-Ahsa governorates, warned young people against listening to those who call for using violence and extremism as a tool to express certain opinions.

“Taking up violence as a tool will not solve the problem nor will it achieve anything; on the contrary, it will make things more complicated and will benefit the enemies of this country,” the statement said.

The statement, issued Sunday evening, went viral on all social media websites.

The majority of Muslim scholars and society members denounced actions that resort to violence and use of weapons against the state.

Nothing in religion or politics justifies violence of any form, the scholar agreed.

The most important for society is to be secure and stable, they said, citing the current turmoil in some Arab countries.

The statement noted that Islam rejects any form of domestic violence and calls for solidarity and protection of unity as well as safeguarding of public interests.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on March 11, 2014.