Riyadh: Saudi authorities have arrested a local activist who has established a liberal network, a human rights activist told AFP on Monday.
Raef Badawi “was arrested on Sunday in [the Red Sea city of] Jeddah for unknown reasons,” said a Saudi rights activist who requested anonymity.
He said that “appointments have been made with judicial officials tomorrow (Tuesday) to find out the reasons” for his arrest.
The Gulf Forum for Civil Societies (GFCS), an organisation of liberal activists in the Gulf, said in a late Sunday statement that it had confirmed Badawi’s arrest by contacting his wife Ansaf.
Badawi was charged with “disobedience of parents” and setting up a liberal network, said the statement signed by the GFCS secretary general Anwar Al Rasheed.
Badawi, a Saudi national, is among the creators of the liberal network with female rights activist Suad Al Shammari and other activists.
The network had announced on May 7 a “day of liberalism” in the kingdom, calling for an end to the influence of religion on public life in Saudi Arabia.
A conference which was set to be held in Jeddah on this occasion was, however, cancelled after organisers said they had been “advised” by authorities not to hold it.
The rights activists from the Arab states in the Gulf called for Badawi’s release in their statement.
“The Gulf Forum for Civil Societies condemns these charges and demands the immediate release (of Badawi) and dropping of these deliberate charges against him,” the statement said.
GFCS also called on international and regional rights groups to apply pressure for the release of Badawi.