Saudi Arabia Could Descend into Chaos, Destabilize Europe: Exiled Prince

KSA steps up arrests of women's rights advocates

Saudi Arabia Could Descend into Chaos, Destabilize Europe: Exiled Prince

(Beirut) - Saudi authorities have accused seven recently detained women's rights activists and others associated with the women's rights movement of serious crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.

'There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the absence of almost 30 days of Muhammad bin Sulman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is due to an incident which is being hidden from the public, ' Kayhan claimed. Saudi activists have said that others arrested but not identified in government-aligned media include Madeha al-Ajroush and Walaa al-Shubbar.

He said he has chose to release all those proven not guilty and others who had agreed financial settlements with the government after admitting to corruption allegations.

The lifting of the driving ban has been lauded as a sign of progress being made under a campaign of reforms led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman but the arrests have highlighted an accompanying crackdown on dissent.

The French leader Emmanuel macron and future king of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a telephone conversation discussed the middle East, said the press service of the French AP.

Critics say the arrest of seven women's rights activists shows lack of commitment by authorities to implement reforms.

As with almost 100,000 young people who left Saudi Arabia every year for almost a decade to study in the West under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, she gained a new understanding of human rights. A statement issued the following day by the Presidency of the State Security - which reports directly to the king's office - said they faced charges for "suspicious contact with foreign parties" and undermining the "security and stability" of the state. But in the same year that MBS has undertaken popular social cultural reforms, he has arrested hundreds of prominent writers, academics, poets, journalists and human-rights defenders.

The arrests targeted multiple generations of Saudi women's rights activists, including iconic figures who first took part in driving protests in the 1990s, as well as younger activists. Hathloul rose to prominence in 2014, when she got in her auto in neighbouring Abu Dhabi and tried to drive across the border to Saudi Arabia.

One of the detained, Loujain al Hathloul, told The Telegraph at the time, "Shutting up or submitting to these threats is unacceptable to me, it is not an option to stay quiet any more".

"When the driving ban lift was announced previous year. a lot of people felt empowered and thought there might be some acceptance for people to be part of the decision-making by the ruling family. but that was never the case", she said, also on condition of anonymity.

The rights group has reported the detention of at least 11 activists, mostly women who previously campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the kingdom's male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions. She also established a $2 million endowment to support Saudi and Arab women at the American University of Beirut who are studying advanced degrees in nursing and health sciences. "It's alarming", she said.

Pro-government media outlets have splashed some of the women's photos online and in newspapers, accusing them of being traitors and of belonging to a "spy cell".

"Saudi women still have not received their full rights", he said.

"I am getting threats now, but I don't really care", the 39-year-old said, expressing concern for the detainees. "We're already late. We use to think that we had financial assets and educated individuals, but unfortunately the situation right now is taking us back years". "It might be an overreaction to please the traditionalists, as we come to the date of women being allowed to drive".

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