- Special Pages
RIYADH: One of Saudi Arabia’s leading clerics has delivered a rare warning to the government that it could face “the spark of violence” if concerns over detainees, poor services and corruption are not addressed.
Sheikh Salman Al Awdah, a conservative who was imprisoned from 1994-99 for agitating for political change and has 2.4 million followers on Twitter, expressed his concerns in an open letter on the social media site.
He described a mood of stagnation which he said was caused by a lack of housing, unemployment, poverty, corruption, weak health and education systems, the plight of the detainees and the absence of any prospect of political reform.
“If revolutions are suppressed they turn into armed action, and if they are ignored they expand and spread. The solution is in wise decisions and in being timely to avert any spark of violence,” he wrote.
A week ago two prominent human rights activists were jailed after years of campaigning about the issue.
The Interior Ministry’s security spokesman had two days earlier warned that activists were using the internet to rouse up street protests by spreading “false information”.
Awdah wrote that Saudis “like people around the world” would not “always be silent about forfeiting all or part” of their rights, before adding “when someone loses hope, you should expect anything from him”.