Saudi Arabia sentences Imam of Grand Mosque to 10 years in Prison for ‘condemning concerts and events’

Sheikh Saleh al Talib during a visit to Pakistan in 2018. Rights group say Talib was arrested after he delivered a sermon opposing the desegregation of men and women in public places (Screengrab)
Sheikh Saleh al Talib in 2018. Rights groups say he was arrested after he delivered a sermon critical of the government’s entertainment industry regulator (Screengrab) – Pic MEE

Former Imam of Masjid al-Haram Sheikh Saleh al Talib has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a Saudi court, Rights groups said.

It was reported that Sheikh Saleh al Talib was arrested without explanation in August 2018.

48-year-old Al-Talib was an imam in Makkah when he was arrested.

According to the social media advocacy group, Prisoners of Conscience, he was arrested immediately after he delivered a public sermon on “evil doing” in which he allegedly criticized the General Entertainment Authority, a government body that regulates the entertainment industry including concerts and entertainment events.

In his public sermon, the imam allegedly said concerts and events violate the country’s religious and cultural norms should be condemned. 

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Talib’s sermons and Quran recitations on YouTube have thousands of followers from all over the world.

According to the US-based rights group Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn), the Specialized Criminal Appeals Court in Riyadh sentenced Sheikh Saleh al Talib to prison after overturning his previous acquittal.

He was arrested when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was announcing reforms of Saudi society and diversifing the economy of the Gulf kingdom.

Rights groups said that authorities have arrested numerous prominent clerics and imams who opposed to MBS’s reform agenda.


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