Dubai: Saudi authorities have banned the sale of books by two prominent Gulf thinkers known to be sympathetic to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, according to reports.
Bookshop owners told the London-based, Saudi-owned Al Hayat daily that they received a circular from the Committee for the Promotion and Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the religious police, to remove publications by Saudi thinker Salman Al Odah and Kuwaiti thinker Tariq Al Suwaidan “immediately”.
Book sellers told the paper that while the removal of the books was unlikely to lead to losses, works by the two thinkers were among the best sellers in the kingdom. Both Al Odah and Al Suwaidan are reasonably popular figures in their own countries and in the wider Gulf region. Al Odah has more than 4.7 million followers on Twitter while Al Suwaidan has almost 3 million.
The crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood figures was intensified in the Gulf following the group’s banning in Saudi Arabia in March.
Last August, Al Suwaidan was fired from the Islamic TV station Al Resala by its owner, billionaire media mogul Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, after he admitted to belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Waleed had said at the time there was no place for members of the group in his vast network of television channels.
Al Odah, who has expressed support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has landed in trouble with the Saudi authorities in the past. In March, 2013, he wrote an open letter to the Saudi government calling for reforms before “violence is rekindled”.