News

April 20, 2006 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Authorities free journalist who criticised religious extremism


Reporters Without Borders has noted the release on 18 April of Rabah Al-Quwai, who writes for the Saudi daily newspapers Okaz and Chams and the Arabic-language websites Dar el-Nadwa and Gasad al-Thaqafa. He was arrested on 2 April for criticising religious extremism in Saudi Arabia on the Internet. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13.04.2006 Saudi journalist arrested for criticising religious extremism in his country Reporters Without Borders today condemned the detention of Rabah Al-Quwai, who writes for the Saudi daily newspapers Okaz and Chams and the Arabic-language websites Dar el-Nadwa and Gasad al-Thaqafa. He has been held at a police station in the northern city of Hail since 2 April, apparently for criticising religious extremism in Saudi Arabia. “The arrest of a journalist for expressing his views on the Internet is simply unacceptable,” the press freedom organisation said. “We also deplore the lack of transparency in this case. No one knows what he has been charged with. He has not been allowed to receive a visit from a lawyer or his family although he has been held for more than a week.” Reporters Without Borders added: “We appeal to King Abdullah to intervene and have this journalist released. The time has come for him to show that he is sincere in his pledges to carry out reforms in the kingdom.” Reached by a family member at the time of his arrest, Al-Quwai said the police were “investigating the beliefs he had expressed in his writing.” The Saudi authorities have confirmed his arrest and have said he will be tried. But they have not said what the charges are. Al-Quwai received death threats last November over website articles that were considered too liberal. He wrote that Islam was interpreted in too strict a fashion in Saudi Arabia and that this had contributed to Al-Qaeda's popularity there. Someone smashed the windscreen of his car, leaving a note saying: “Next time it will be you.” The police never investigated this incident.