Saudi court postpones hearing of prominent preacher Awdah: son

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi court on Sunday postponed until November the trial of prominent Islamist preacher Salman al-Awdah, who could face the death penalty on terrorism-related charges, his son said. The public prosecutor requested the maximum penalty for Awdah, a 62-year-old Sunni Muslim cleric with a strong social media following, at the last secret hearing in May on charges including 'spreading discord and incitement against the ruler'. 'After waiting five hours, they just postponed it until Nov.

Reuters July 29, 2019 01:06:49 IST
Saudi court postpones hearing of prominent preacher Awdah: son

Saudi court postpones hearing of prominent preacher Awdah son

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi court on Sunday postponed until November the trial of prominent Islamist preacher Salman al-Awdah, who could face the death penalty on terrorism-related charges, his son said.

The public prosecutor requested the maximum penalty for Awdah, a 62-year-old Sunni Muslim cleric with a strong social media following, at the last secret hearing in May on charges including "spreading discord and incitement against the ruler".

"After waiting five hours, they just postponed it until Nov. 5," his son Abdullah al-Awdah, who is in the United States, told Reuters of the hearing scheduled for Sunday.

Awdah is one of dozens of clerics, activists and intellectuals arrested since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman rose to power in 2017, even as the conservative kingdom enacted some social and economic reforms.

Amnesty International on Friday criticised the "sham trial" and called on Saudi authorities to release Awdah and drop all charges against him.

Awdah has "gone through a terrible ordeal, including prolonged pre-trial detention, months of solitary confinement, incommunicado detention and other ill-treatment - all flagrant violations to his right to a fair trial", Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty's Middle East Research Director, said in a statement.

The Saudi government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After previously criticising the government over human rights, Awdah was arrested in September 2017 at his home a few hours after he posted on Twitter urging Qatar and Saudi Arabia to end a diplomatic row.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy where protests and political parties are banned, does not tolerate public criticism.

The kingdom has come under increasing global scrutiny over its human rights record since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year at the hands of Saudi agents, and the detention of around a dozen women activists.

Last April, Saudi Arabia beheaded 37 Saudis across the Gulf state, mostly minority Shi'ite Muslims, over terrorism crimes. The U.N. human rights chief condemned the executions over concern about lack of due process and fair trial guarantees, and said at least three of the men were minors when sentenced.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Dale Hudson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.