A Yemeni man has been sentenced by a Saudi court to 15 years in prison for apostasy, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday. The human rights group says Ali Abu Luhum, 38, has been charged with “making two comments via anonymous Twitter accounts”. Prosecutors argued that the phone numbers linked to him were registered.
HRW says the court found that the tweets were promoting “apostasy, disbelief and atheism.” It was informed that the trial was held without any witness in favor of the accused.
HRW comments that the allegations against Abu Luhum include “denial of the existence of a Creator.” At the same time, publishing content that ‘imposes hatred on public order, religious values and public morality on social media’. It further states that Abu Luhum was convicted of “promoting atheism.” He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for apostasy. However, no explanation was given for what he was accused of saying.
There was no immediate reaction from Saudi authorities. An appeal will be made to the Supreme Court, HRW said. The human rights organization is waiting for the decision.
Abu Luhum is being held in a prison in Najran, near the Yemeni border. Saudi Arabia is leading a military alliance in support of Yemen’s internationally recognized government in its fight against Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working to make his country more moderate and business-friendly by increasing investment to diversify its economy. Saudi Arabia has also invested heavily in tourism, entertainment and sports in recent years.
Michael Page, HRW’s deputy chief for the Middle East, said in a statement that the Saudi authorities were doing everything possible to portray the country as tolerant and reformist, but that opposition to state orthodoxy over religion still carries a decade and a half in prison! A ‘modern’ Saudi Arabia must first stop controlling the people’s personal beliefs.
Source: The New Arab