Saudi Arabia’s medieval legal system is back in the news with another attack on free speech and free thought. A Saudi reformist writer, Zuhair Kutbi, has been jailed for four years and banned from writing for his calls to reform the Kingdom. Kubti had called fellow intellectuals “cowards” in failing to stand up for reforms. Rather than engage Kubti in debate over its alleged racist and repressive elements, the response of the Kingdom was to jail him and ban him from writing for 15 years.
Half of the sentence was suspended on the jail time. However, while he will have to spend just two years in jail but main purpose of the prosecution remains unchanged: a 15 year ban on writing. He was also ordered to pay 100,000 riyals ($26,667) and banned from travelling for five years
The draconian sentence was handed down by the Saudi “terrorism” court that has been widely accused of focusing more on critics and dissidents than terrorists.
Kutbi, 62, was detained after an interview in June in which he called for “transforming the country into a constitutional monarchy and combatting religious and political repression.” No wonder he was viewed as so dangerous by our close allies in the Saudi Royal family.