Saudi Arabia has reportedly arrested Sheikh Kadhim al-Amri, a leading Shia cleric in the holy city of Medina, without any charges.
Local Shia sources reported the development on Tuesday, saying the arrestee — who is the son of the late cleric Sheikh Muhammad al-Amri — was transferred by Saudi security forces to an “unknown location” upon detention.
Sheikh Amri is the custodian of a famous mosque in Medina and represents Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s senior Shia cleric, in the holy city. He had been arrested once in 2010 too.
His arrest came only a couple of days after a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Shia cleric Sheikh Abdul Latif al-Nasser to eight years in prison on “terrorism charges.”
Sheikh Nasser had likewise been placed under arbitrary arrest while traveling with his family on the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in June 2019.
Back in 2017, the Saudi kingdom changed its counterterrorism laws to include dissent as a punishable crime. The new laws came to stipulate penalties of up to 10 years in jail for insulting the king and the crown prince as well as the death penalty for “other acts of terrorism.”
Ever since, Riyadh has been coming down hard on its Shia minority, whose members are mainly concentrated in the country’s oil-rich Eastern Province.