Sep 13, 2017 @ 20:44

By: Agence France-Presse

Saudi authorities have arrested at the least 20 people, together with outstanding clerics Salman al-Awdah and Awad al-Qarni, in an obvious crackdown on dissent, activists and relations have stated.

The arrests began on September 9 and on Tuesday included six clerics and Awdah’s brother, Khaled, for apparently disclosing that his brother had been detained, activists stated.

Khaled al-Awdah had confirmed on his Twitter account on Monday that his brother was in custody.

The main cleric was arrested after he welcomed the primary contact between Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tameem bin Hamad Al-Thani after a three-month boycott.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties on June 5 and imposed financial sanctions on Qatar accusing it of hyperlinks to extremist teams.

They cited Doha’s longstanding help for the Muslim Brotherhood, blacklisted by the 4 Arab governments as a terrorist group, though not by Western governments or the United Nations.

Hopes raised by the contact of a thaw in the Gulf’s worst diplomatic disaster in a long time have been swiftly dashed as Saudi Arabia suspended any additional dialogue.

Awdah and Qarni, who’ve thousands and thousands of followers on social media, have been amongst Saudi clerics who opposed the presence of US troops in the dominion through the 1991 Gulf struggle.

Qarni has been accused of hyperlinks to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Prominent Saudi journalist and author Jamal Khashoggi stated that he was banned from writing in Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat, apparently for defending the Brotherhood in tweets.

A Twitter account referred to as Motakl (Detained) run by activists against the Saudi authorities reported the names of at the least 21 people who’ve been rounded up to this point, most of them clerics.

The account cited unnamed sources as anticipating the variety of arrests to double in the approaching days.

It launched a petition calling for the speedy launch of the detainees.

Human Rights Watch stated that it had no direct data on the arrests however that they could possibly be related to Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to consolidate energy.

“What I can say is that it is very reflective of Saudi Arabia’s approach to political or religious dissent,” HRW Middle East researcher Adam Coogle, informed AFP.

“Saudi Arabia has a horrendous record on freedom of expression and you can say things are getting worse,” he added.