Sheikh Salman Odah, author of 53 books one time host of his own TV show and editor of the popular website Islam Today, is a Muslim Scholar with a reputation of taking stances in recent years on important social issues. Those issues are denouncing extremist violence, calling for greater democracy and social reform, and denouncing the punishment of homosexuality.
On 10th September 2017, he was detained by the authorities along with 20 people. According to Salman Odah’s son the case is being held by state security apparatus, not the prosecution. Sources claim that he was allegedly detained because he tweeted a supporting a diplomatic solution to the Qatar-Gulf row that began in June last year, which was basically a dua.
He tweeted: “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people.”
But on Tuesday, the state prosecutor brought 37 charges against Salman Odah, including “leading a terrorist group” and “inciting public opinion against the ruler”. The court says he is affiliated to the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which the state has declared a terrorist organization. A Riyadh court has confirmed the death penalty.
“In such a trial, no one is allowed to attend, and there does not seem to be any real due process,” His son tweeted.
Along with Sheikh Salman Odah, for female human rights defender Israa al-Ghumgham death penalty is also sought. In 2016, Nimr Al-Nimr was charged with terrorism and was executed. The anti-death penalty group Reprieve has reported that since the appointment of crown prince Mohammad bin Salman the execution rate has doubled in Saudi Arabia.
As crackdown to purge Saudi Arabia of dissent many moderate Islamic clerics, powerful business figures, targeted and human rights activists have been arrested since the heir to the throne Mohammed bin Salman became the kingdom’s crown prince in June 2017.
“Producing and distributing content that ridicules, mocks, provokes and disrupts public order, religious values and public morals through social media… will be considered a cybercrime punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals ($800,000),” the public prosecution tweeted late Monday, AFP reported