October 03
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Saudi authorities arrested the cleric after criticizing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for organizing international music concerts, The New Arab reported

The Prisoners of Conscience rights group said on Tuesday that Sheikh Omar Al-Muqbil, a professor of Islamic law at Qassim University, was arrested after denouncing the policies of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) as a threat to the kingdom's culture.

Al-Muqbil accused the GEA of "erasing the original identity of society”.

"This is a continuation of the arbitrary arrests that have taken place in the kingdom for the past two years, which are aimed at leading scholars, sheikhs, and other free thinkers," the Prisoners of Conscience group said.

Last year, a number of renowned Western musicians, including Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, Janet Jackson and Sean Paul, gave concerts in Saudi Arabia as part of the “liberalization” policy of Mohammed bin Salman.

Reforms, including the lifting of the ban on women driving cars, mixed-gender concerts, are part of a large-scale economic plan called Vision 2030, which will diversify the Saudi economy from oil dependence and create new jobs.

But critics argue that reform is distracting from widespread repression against critics of Mohammed bin Salman.

In September 2017, more than 20 influential clerics and intellectuals were detained for allegedly acting on behalf of "foreign parties".

Among those detained was reformist cleric Salman Al-Awdah, who was arrested on terrorism charges after posting a tweet calling for "harmony between people", which Saudi authorities claim was a call for reconciliation with the neighbouring Qatar, who it had cut ties with.

Months later, more than 200 senior Saudi officials, businessmen, and princes were arrested as part of an alleged anti-corruption campaign.

Experts say that this was a way to consolidate the power of the crown prince, who thus eliminated potential competitors.

Riyadh has also been criticized by the international community for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

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