Saudi Arabia arrests 46 for 'stirring divisions'

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22 people, including a Qatari national, were detained for using social media to spread dissent

Members of Saudi security forces enacting encounter during military parade in 2015 (Reuters/file photo)
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Thursday 5 October 2017 2:43 UTC
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Saudi authorities said on Wednesday they had arrested 22 people, including a Qatari national, for using social media to spread dissent.

Another 24 people were detained in the northern Hail region for "stirring tribal divisions," the state news agency SPA reported.

Neither report went into the details of the offences. The announcements came days after an order from King Salman lifting a ban on women driving in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

Saudi Arabia, alongside the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, has also cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting militants and Iran - charges Doha denies.

Citing a source in the newly created Presidency of State Security, the counter-terrorism and domestic intelligence body, SPA said the 22 were detained after authorities spotted videos on social media "inciting against public order".

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The online postings stirred "up feelings towards issues that are still under consideration," and incited people to commit crimes, SPA said.

Separately, SPA carried a statement from the interior ministry saying that during unspecified investigations in Hail, "people linked to the case were promoting lies and exaggerations about their circumstances in order to provoke sedition and tribal tensions".

Soon after the two reports, Saudi Arabia’s top clerical body, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, issued a statement saying: "Anyone who tried to harm the kingdom security and the unity of its people has committed a dangerous crime."