Saudi Arabia: Arrest and Persecution Against Entertainment Policy Critics

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Mahmoud

In Saudi Arabia, authorities continue to prosecute individuals that criticize the General Authority for Entertainment.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Mahmoud, a former faculty member of Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, has been arrested by Saudi authorities because of his criticism towards the entertainment forms in the country. He called for “for implementing entertainment events logically and acceptably without prejudice to the essence of religion and faith”.

Saudi-focused human rights group Prisoners of Conscience reported the arrest of the Prince of the Otaiba tribe Sheikh Faisal bin Sultan bin Jahjah bin Humaid following his tweets. He criticised the Chairman of the General Authority for Entertainment, Turki al-Sheikh, and a royal advisor close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for spending hundreds of millions of state funds on entertainment events while many in the country live in debt.

Other personalities who have been arrested because of their entertainment policy critics are the poet Hamoud bin Qasi Al-Subaie and video designer Consul bin Subaie.

These cases underline that criticism of Saudi Arabia’s policies or leaders have become punishable by harsh prison sentences.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) expresses concern on the government of Saudi Arabia’s continued arrest of individuals for freedom of expression.