Awad Al-Qarni, 65, a prominent law professor who was arrested for posting critical comments about the kingdom of Saudi Arabia on social media, has been sentenced to death. The British Guardian published a document from the prosecution authorities containing such information on the 15th (local time). Earlier, the possibility of his death was mentioned mainly in the local media, but this is the first time that specific documents have been made public. Foreign media such as the Guardian analyzed it as part of a crackdown on anti-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's forces.
The documents released by the Guardian were exchanged with Al-Qarni's son Nasser. According to the documents, the main charge applied to Al-Qarni by prosecutors is that he posted opinions against the government on Twitter and elsewhere at every opportunity. Prosecutors also said he was involved in a video involving the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic fundamentalist organization that originated in Egypt in the 1920s, which the Saudis consider terrorist but defend in Qatar.
At the heart of Al-Qarni's allegations are diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, announced in 2017 that it would cut ties with Qatar. He cited his close ties to Shiite-dominated Iran and his support for terrorist groups. Qatar, which shares offshore gas fields with Iran, found it difficult to turn to the side of the four countries. Prosecutors allege that during this time, Al-Qarni spoke in favor of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. The breakdown between them did not end until 2021.
A prominent cleric and speaker with 2 million Twitter followers, Al-Qarni is considered one of the country's leading reform intellectuals. In 2016, she took a photo of herself wearing a floral skirt without wearing a hijab and posted it on Twitter, saying of the woman who was arrested, "Rather than a lawbreaker, she is a victim of the wrong media environment." He taught law at Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University and King Khalid University. He is a respected scholar and has often appeared on television.
His son, Nasser, an engineer, is currently living in England. "Soldiers showed up in armored vehicles and confiscated the family's electronic devices," he recalled the day his father was arrested, "pointing guns at everyone, including my mother and brothers."
Earlier, there were several cases in Saudi Arabia where people were sentenced to heavy prison terms for using social media. In August last year, Salma al-Shehab, 35, who advocated for Muslim women's rights, was sentenced to 34 years in prison, according to the AP and others. He also wrote an article calling for Saudi reform and the release of imprisoned clerics. That same month, another woman was sentenced to 45 years in prison for disturbing public order using Twitter. [TheJoongAng]