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Saudi preacher arrested, days after releasing book blasting royal family

Safar al-Halawi was detained on Thursday [Twitter]

Date of publication: 12 July, 2018

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Safar al-Hawali and his three sons were detained days after his book 'Muslims and Western Civilisation' was released, prompting fears of a fresh crackdown on dissent.
Saudi authorities arrested prominent preacher Safar al-Hawali on Thursday, just days after he published a book challenging the kingdom's foreign policy.

The book, titled Muslims and Western Civilisation, criticised Saudi Arabia's rapprochement with the US, the UAE and President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's Egypt. 

Three of Hawali's sons - Abdul Rahman, Abdullah and Ibrahim - were also detained. 

Abdul Rahman and Abdullah were reportedly taken into custody while attending a family wedding in the southwestern Baha region on Wednesday. Hawali and his son Ibrahim, meanwhile, were detained on Thursday morning. 

Hawali rose to prominence in 1990 as the leader of the Sahwah movement, a form of Qutbism named after Sayyid Qutb, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The movement opposes the presence of US troops on Muslim lands.

Hawali was previously detained in the 1990s for distributing tapes calling on followers to overthrow the ruling al-Saud family. 

An October 2004 petition to the UN signed by 2,500 Muslim intellectuals named Hawali as a "theologian of terror".

Halawi is reportedly ill with a blood clot and broken pelvis, according to the Prisoners of Conscience Twitter account that covers Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has launched a crackdown on dissent since the 2011 uprisings across the Middle East. The kingdom classifies the Muslim Brotherhood as a "terrorist" group.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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