In the second such case this month, a Saudi Arabian court on Wednesday sentenced a woman to 45 years in prison for allegedly harming the nation through her social media activity.
Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani, who comes from one of the largest tribes in Saudi Arabia and has no apparent history of activism, was sentenced to the prison for almost 50 years after the judge accused her of using social media to “disrupt the cohesion of society” and “destabilise the social fabric,” according to media reports.
Al-Qahtani “offended the public order through the information network,” the judge further decided.
It is unclear what al-Qahtani posted online or where her hearing was held. She was taken into custody on July 4, 2021, according to Fox News citing Washington-based human rights watchdog Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), which is critical of the kingdom.
“This seems like the beginning of a new wave of sentences and convictions by new judges who have been placed in the specialized criminal court,” Abdullah Alaoudh, Research Director for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at DAWN, said about the case.
Al-Qahtani was imprisoned, according to Alaoudh, for “simply tweeting her opinions.”
The sentence comes after a global outcry over a related instance in which a 34-year-old woman was sentenced to prison.
“It’s very hard to ignore the fact that we are seeing these sentences as (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) has received increased legitimacy in the international realm,” said Allison McManus, the group’s research director.