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'Her crime is her voice': Saudis demand release of pro-Palestine activist Nuha al-Balawi Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

'Her crime is her voice': Saudis demand release of pro-Palestine activist Nuha al-Balawi

Nuha, who wears the face-veil, was detained after criticising the government's ties to Israel [Twitter]

Date of publication: 12 February, 2018

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Saudis have rallied online to demand that authorities release an activist, who was arrested last month over a video she posted on social media, criticising alleged government ties to Israel.
Saudis have rallied online to demand that authorities release an activist, who was arrested last month over a video she posted on social media criticising alleged government ties to Israel.

Twitter users have urged authorities to release Nuha al-Balawi, who was detained on January 23 in the northwestern region of Tabuk amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent.

Britain-based rights group ALQST said that the 24-year-old has been held in detention since her arrest and has been interrogated over her activity on Twitter.

Balawi, who wears the Islamic face-veil, recently published a video accusing authorities of "attempting to normalise ties with Israel" at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

She slammed the widespread media reports that relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv have been warming up over their mutual dislike for regional rival Iran.

"There is not a single benefit for Arabs when we normalise relations with Israel. It only serves the best interests of the Zionist state," she said in the video.

Balawi has also called for further women's rights in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Balawi recently published a video accusing authorities of 'attempting to normalise ties with Israel' at the expense of the Palestinian cause

Twitter users have called on the government to release Balawi, using the hashtag #FreeNuha to raise awareness of the case.

"Her crime is her voice! Her crime is to have another opinion!," said one Twitter user.

"The Saudi government has arrested Nuha. She's in a hunger strike and her condition is bad," said another.

Saudi rights activists Yahya Assiri told al-Araby TV that Balawi could be sentenced to five years behind bars if found guilty of violating the country's sweeping cybercrime law, which is often used to silence opposition voices.

Activist-led Twitter account Prisoners of Conscience said that Balawi would be brought before a judge on Monday.

Since last September, Saudi Arabia has arbitrarily detained or disappeared over 61 human rights activists and political dissidents.

The wave of arrests started when prominent clerics including Salman al-Awdah and Awad al-Qarni were detained in an apparent crackdown on dissent.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also led a sweeping anti-corruption campaign targeting the kingdom's elite.

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