Tariq Al-Mubarak has been held in detention since October 27 for his writings that criticised the government’s ban on Saudi women driving.
Saudi authorities on Sunday arrested a local columnist, Tariq Al-Mubarak, after he wrote an article supporting the right of women to drive in the only country in the world that bans female motorists, activists said.
In his article in the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat daily, Mubarak had criticised what he said were “threats by a small group to use violence to prevent modernity or a small group within the society from demanding their rights.”
“They jail people within their extremist thoughts and scare them from living their lives normally,” wrote Mubarak.
Media rights groups called for Mubarak’s immediate release and supported his right to free expression.
“We demand the immediate release of the journalist Tariq Al-Mubarak who has been arrested for standing up for the human rights of women in Saudi Arabia,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “His arrest clearly undermines the right to press freedom and freedom of expression and calls into question the state’s attitude towards its citizens’ basic human rights.”
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist’s MENA Coordinator Sherif Mansour said: “Tariq Al-Mubarak is evidently being held in retaliation for writing in support of women’s rights, which is not a crime. Saudi authorities should disclose charges against Al-Mubarak or release him immediately.”
Saudi authorities had warned women of legal measures if they defy a long-standing driving ban in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
At least 16 women were stopped by police on Saturday and were fined and forced along with their male guardians to pledge to obey the kingdom’s laws.
Source: Doha Centre for Media Freedom
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