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Saudi Arabia: Son of forcibly disappeared cleric rearrested weeks after release

Malik al-Dowaish has been campaigning for details about his father, who was last seen in custody in 2018
Malik al-Dowaish was arrested less than a month after he was released from prison after campaigning for the release of their father (Social media)
Malik al-Dowaish was arrested less than a month after he was released from prison after campaigning for the release of his father (Social media)

The son of a Saudi cleric, who has been forcibly disappeared since 2016, has been re-arrested by security forces. 

UK-based rights organisation Sanad said on Saturday that Saudi authorities detained Malik al-Dowaish less than a month after he was released from prison on 2 September along with his brother, Abdulwahhab al-Dowaish.

The pair were jailed in the summer after campaigning for the release of their father, Sulaiman al-Dowaish, a religious scholar who was detained in April 2016 following a series of tweets about raising children. 

In an article written before his arrest in July and published by US-based rights group DAWN, Malik accused Saudi authorities of torturing his father and urged the administration of US President Joe Biden to pressure the Saudi government to release him. 

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"Saudi authorities abducted, tortured and forcibly disappeared my father, Sulaiman al-Dowaish, a religious scholar, in 2016. My family has not heard from him ever since," Malik said in the article published in August. 

"I am speaking out from our home in Riyadh, here in Saudi Arabia, and risking a brutal reaction from the Saudi government. But I am willing to do anything to secure the release of my father and brother."

Sulaiman's arrest in 2016 came after he summarised a lecture he had given days earlier about how to raise children, which was seen as an indirect criticism of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In the tweets, Sulaiman warned against the dangers of spoiling sons with too many privileges without proper accountability. 

The preacher was arrested in Mecca then taken to an unofficial prison located in the basement of a royal palace in Riyadh and run by members of Mohammed bin Salman's entourage, according to reports by NGOs MENA Rights Group and ALQST

He was physically assaulted in the chest and throat, causing him to bleed from his mouth and eventually fall unconscious. He was last seen in custody in 2018 and has yet to be tried in court. 

Since taking de-facto control of Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2017, Mohammed bin Salman has overseen a widespread crackdown on dissent, even as he pushed a number of nominally liberalising reforms.
In September 2017, Saudi authorities arrested dozens of independent scholars, academics and activists, including Salman al-Odah, a prominent religious figure in the Arab world whom prosecutors have asked to be handed the death penalty. 

Hundreds have been executed in recent years, with 120 executions carried out so far in 2022 alone. In March, the kingdom executed 81 men in its largest single mass execution in decades.

Saudi officials say the kingdom does not have political prisoners.

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