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Saudi forces arrest senior preacher: Report

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Saudi security forces have reportedly arrested a senior preacher alongside seven other people during a raid on the public figure’s house.

On Friday, Quds Press International News Agency reported the arrest of Sheikh Ali bin Saeed al-Hajjaj al-Ghamdi, a former preacher at al-Masjid al-Nabawi or the Prophet’s Mosque, in the Saudi holy city of Medina.

The Prisoners of Conscience Twitter account, which covers the developments concerning the Saudi nationals who are detained for their political beliefs, confirmed the arrest.

Sheikh Ghamdi, it said, was “arrested along with his brother and his lawyer, and at least 5 other sheikhs, who were in the house during a raid by Saudi security forces!”

The reported arrests come less than a week after the kingdom nabbed Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, an outspoken scholar known for his chronic opposition to some of the country’s policies as well as the presence of American troops on Saudi soil.

Since last year, the kingdom has gone on an arrest spree of oppositionists and human rights activists, accusing them of destabilizing efforts and endangering national security.

Last November, hundreds of influential Saudi businessmen and members of the royal family were also rounded up in an alleged “anti-corruption campaign” spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Bin Salman is accused of using the arrest campaign to muffle all opposition before rising to power.

On Thursday, The Washington Post published an opinion piece, saying Bin Salman seemed determined to take the kingdom “back to the norms of pre-modern Saudi Arabia”.

“He has endorsed absolute monarchy more firmly and vociferously than any of his predecessors,” the feature added.

It cited an interview Salman had with The Atlantic, in which he defended the ruling system, saying, “If it were not for absolute monarchy, you wouldn’t have the United States. The absolute monarchy in France helped the creation of the United States by giving it support.”

“In abandoning the promise of democracy, the crown prince may actually be on his way to making Saudi Arabia more medieval than ever,” the feature concluded.

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