Saudi authorities have arrested political activist Suleiman al-Rashudi after he gave a lecture about the permissibility of protests, according to tweets by family members today. Using his Twitter account, al-Rashudi’s wife said her husband was arrested on his way to Qassim. “The reason, I believe, is because of his latest lecture,” she said.
Al-Rashudi is a lawyer and a former judge. He was arrested in 2007 with a group of activists who came to be known as the “Jeddah Reformers.” The government accused them of of terrorism and plotting to overthrow the monarchy. Amnesty International described them in its 2011 annual report as “advocates of peaceful political reform.”
After four years in detention, al-Rushoudi was released in 2011 on bail. Four months later, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by a travel ban for another 15 years, but the sentence was not carried out.
Speaking before an audience of fellow activists Monday in Riyadh, al-Rashoudi said there is nothing in Islamic Sharia that bans peaceful protest. “The tyrant regime has closed all the other doors for reform,” he said, adding that the government “has not undertaken any serious reforms since the Arab Spring started,” despite all the calls for change on social media.
Al-Rashoudi, a veteran activist, was recently elected president of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). Two members of the unlicensed human rights group are currently on trial.