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Saudi Arabia sentences woman to 34 years in prison for social media posts promoting women’s rights: report


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A Saudi woman was quietly sentenced to more than three decades in prison last week for tweets criticizing the way women are treated in the country, according to reports.

Salma al-Shehab, 33, was sentenced to 34 years in prison after the Saudi government found she used her social media platform to “disrupt public order, undermine the security of society and to the stability of the state, and support those who had committed criminal actions in accordance with the anti-terrorism law and its financing”, according to court records obtained by the Washington Post.

Shehab was active on social media, opposing the Saudi guardianship system, which gives men control over women’s lives in many areas, and she also called on the kingdom to release prisoners of conscience.

Court documents allege that Shehab supported persecuted people “by following their social media accounts and reposting their tweets”.

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A member of the Saudi honor guard is covered by the flag of Saudi Arabia in 2019
(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Shehab was originally sentenced to six years in prison in 2021, but after appealing the decision, the court ruled that the prison sentence was insufficient “given her crimes” and increased the sentence to 34 years, which which human rights groups say is the longest ever. against a peaceful activist.

“The sentence handed down against Salma Al-Shehab is unprecedented and dangerous,” the Saudi European Organization for Human Rights said in a statement. “In recent years, many women activists have been subjected to unfair trials that have resulted in arbitrary convictions, in addition to some of them being subjected to severe torture, including sexual harassment.”

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In addition to the prison sentence, Shehab faces a 34-year travel ban that will take effect upon his release.

The sentence also forces Shehab to close his Twitter account, which some human rights groups are trying to prevent.

Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, Billiards, File)

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“Now we are working with Twitter not to shut it down or to make them aware that at least if they are asked to shut it down, it is from the Saudi government and not from her,” said Lina al-Hathloul, responsible for monitoring and surveillance. communications to ALQST, a Saudi rights group based in London, told the Washington Post.

The Twitter page, which remains active, currently features a pinned tweet asking God to help reject injustice which ends with the words “freedom to prisoners of conscience and all oppressed people around the world”.

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