Saudi activists launch campaign for release of jailed cleric and his sons

Saudi activists launch campaign for release of jailed cleric and his sons
Saudi activists are calling for the release of the sons of Suleiman al-Duweish, a religious cleric who was imprisoned by Saudi authorities in 2016, and whose sons were detained in the following years for inquiring about his whereabouts.
3 min read
24 August, 2022
Saudi Arabia has a history of imprisoning preachers, activists and journalist who are perceived to speak out against the royal family [Getty]

Saudi activists have launched a campaign calling for the release of religious cleric Suleiman al-Duweish and his sons. 

Using the hashtag #أطلقوا_أبناء_الدويش (‘release the sons of Duweish’), the activists are urging Saudi authorities to free the cleric who was imprisoned in 2016, as well as his sons, who were imprisoned in the subsequent years. 

The cleric's sons Abdulwahhab, Abdulrahman and Malik were arrested by Saudi authorities for enquiring about their father. 

Suleiman al-Duweish was apprehended by authorities in 2016 while on a business trip to Mecca. The preacher was reportedly arrested for tweets in which he pointed out the dangers of individuals giving their sons power and responsibility without accountability, which was perceived as criticism against King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

According to multiple rights groups including the MENA Rights Group and ALQST, he was taken to the Royal Palace in Riyadh where he was beaten and abused by the crown prince.

He has been reportedly tortured by high-ranking officials in prison, and has since disappeared. 

Rights groups, such as Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) tweeted a document from the Saudi interior ministry that acknowledges Duweish has been "under investigation" since 2016. 

Adbulwahhab was arrested multiple times, most recently in 2021 and his location currently remains unknown. His brother, Abdulrahman, was sentenced to two years in prison later in the same year. 

A third brother, Malik, was arrested in July 2022, days before US President Joe Biden visited the kingdom to meet with the crown prince.  

The campaign comes just days after the kingdom sentenced another prominent cleric, Sheikh Saleh al-Taleb - the former Imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca - to ten years in prison. Al-Taleb was arrested in 2016, allegedly for a sermon in which he urged Muslims to speak out against evil. 

Saudi Arabia routinely imprisons preachers, activists, journalists and other dissidents. The kingdom has imprisoned dozens of dissidents perceived to have spoken out against the state over the past few years, especially since current crown prince seized power in 2017.