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Saudi Arabia moves to indict some 'radical' Twitter users

Posted August 14

Saudi Arabia has said it will indict a group of "radical" Twitter users charged with "harming the public order," according to a statement on its state news agency website on Sunday.

The size of the group indicted and their identities have not been disclosed. However, Saudi Arabia's spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Information Hani Al Ghufaily tweeted ahead of the statement that radical Sunni cleric Ali Al Rabieei had been summoned to the "committee for publication crimes."

Al Rabieei's frequently tweets about Shia Muslims, who he refers to as "rejectionists," a derogatory term for the minority group. The cleric's profile photo on the social network also features the image of Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, with devil horns.

Al Rabieei could not be reached for comment.

Saudi Arabia has a sizable Shiite minority whose members reside primarily in the restive eastern province of Qatif.

Last week, Saudi authorities announced they had nearly rooted out gunmen from the town of Awamiya in Qatif, which has been a site of anti-government rebellion since the 2011 Arab Spring.

Saudi Shia Muslims have long chafed under Sunni-majority rule, where a hardline school of Islamic thought, known as Wahabism, predominates.

Saudi Arabia bans public worship by non-Muslims and severely restricts public displays of religion by non-Wahhabis, including Shia.

But in recent years, a series of reforms have swept through the ultra-conservative kingdom, curtailing the powers of the kingdom's religious police, granting women a growing list of rights, and cracking down on religious incitement.

Saudi Arabia's newly appointed Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 31, is widely seen as a driving force behind the country's reforms.

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