Saudi Arabia: Court jails Makkah Imam, Sheikh Saleh Al-Talib, for 10 years

A human rights organization recently reported that Sheikh Saleh Al-Talib, a well-known imam and preacher at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, has been given a ten-year prison sentence by the Saudi Court of Appeals.

According to the organization, the Specialized Criminal Court’s ruling clearing Sheikh Al-Talib of the allegations against him was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Sheikh Al-Talib, who is 48 years old, was detained in August 2018, but no formal justification for the detention was given. He was an imam in Makkah at the time.

Thousands of people watch Talib’s sermons and Quranic recitations on YouTube, and he has a large global following.

Al-Talib was detained, according to the social media advocacy group Prisoners of Conscience, which tracks and records the detention of Saudi preachers and religious figures, after he delivered a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak out against evil in public.

The forthright and passionate Khutbah was seemingly delivered in the context of Donald Trump’s illegitimate announcement on recognizing Al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli State. Sheikh Salah was subsequently removed from his post as Imam in 2018 after his reported criticism of morally degenerative entertainment going mainstream in Saudi Arabia.

This arrest followed a sermon in which he criticized the General Entertainment Authority, a government agency in charge of overseeing the entertainment industry. He denounced performances and gatherings for defying the nation’s religious and cultural traditions.

Since then, a number of Arab states have subsequently normalised with the Israeli State and Saudi Arabia has also increased in its overtures towards Israel.

Numerous well-known clerics and imams who oppose the new reform program have recently been detained by Saudi authorities. Salman al-Odah, who demanded that Saudi Arabians put aside their grievances with Qataris following Riyadh’s leadership of a regional boycott of the Gulf state, is one of those who has been detained.

Salma al-Shehab, a PhD candidate who received a 34-year prison term for tweets that were critical of the Saudi leadership, was among the other recent critics detained.


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