The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) on Wednesday called for the release of Muslim scholars and preachers detained in Saudi Arabia and UAE.
The Doha-based group said in a statement it is following the situation of a group of senior preachers and scholars languishing in prisons of the Saudi kingdom and the UAE, who have been jailed not for any crime but for expressing their opinions.
The statement comes after the son of one of the detained Muslim figures, Salman al-Awda, a prominent Muslim preacher and member of IUMS’ board of trustees, announced his father had been transferred to a hospital four months into his detention.
Al-Awda was arrested on Sep. 10, 2017 as part of a campaign of arrests involving a number of scholars and writers, including Aaidh al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari.
A day after the arrest, Saudi authorities said they had arrested a group of people working “for the benefit of foreign parties against the kingdom’s security and interests”, without specifying whether al-Awda and the other scholars and preachers were among the detainees.
Activists on Twitter said the arrests came against the background of their stance against the Gulf crisis which erupted last June.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) quoted on Jan. 7, a relative of al-Awda as saying the Saudi authorities had not interrogated the scholar or specified any charges against him, but kept him in solitary confinement.
The relative added the arrest came after al-Awda did not respond to instructions by Saudi authorities to tweet in support of Qatar’s isolation and instead tweeted in support of reconciliation between the Persian Gulf states.
According to HRW, al-Awda was one of the dozens of dissidents, writers and clerics detained since mid-September last year, whose number, activists estimate exceeds 60.
There was no official response from Riyadh to the HRW statement.